Despite a Superior Court ruling last year that voided a license to convert a Long Wharf pavilion on Boston’s waterfront into a 220-seat restaurant, the Boston Redevelopment Authority has filed suit in federal court to overturn the decision.
In a filing at U.S. District Court on Monday, the BRA is suing the National Park Service, alleging that the federal agency arbitrarily expanded the boundaries of protected park space on Long Wharf and prevented construction of a restaurant on the city-owned waterfront parcel.
The dispute commenced in 2006 when the BRA awarded the license to build "Doc's Long Wharf," a $1 million restaurant on Long Wharf to Michael Conlon, owner of Eat Drink Laugh Restaurant Group, which operates the Paramount on Charles Street and the 21st Amendment on Beacon Hill. Under the terms of the deal, Conlon’s 10-year lease, with an option for an extension, would cost $142,500 annually, minus a $60,000 credit for the first five years to offset construction costs. The proposed 4,655 square-foot restaurant with an outdoor cafe would contain 220 seats and replace the pavilion located beyond theMarriott Hotel and Chart House restaurant.
But a group of North End neighbors, dubbed the “North End Ten,” filed suit in Superior Court, alleging the eatery would violate open space protection, and eliminate views of Boston Harbor. While the group initially lost the court fight in 2007, Sanjoy Mahajan, one of the neighborhood plaintiffs, later uncovered a 1980s state-city agreement and an accompanying map that revealed the BRA had promised to forever preserve the Long Wharf space for outdoor recreation.
As a result of the new information introduced in court, last year Suffolk Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Fahey voided a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection to operate the restaurant on the BRA-owned land.
The BRA lawsuit contends that the space reserved for the restaurant is not restricted open space, alleging the protected land is on the adjacent plaza.
“The BRA simply wants to crush any opposition,” said Mahajan. “We have tried to have the case mediated, but the BRA has not shown any interest.”
Michael Conlon did not return a call seeking comment.
A spokesman for the National Park Service and the Boston Redevelopment Authority said they do not comment on pending litigation.
In the past, the BRA has argued that a waterfront restaurant would activate that section of Boston Harbor.
Authored by Thomas Grillo via bizjournals.com.