Will the end of Long Wharf be a restaurant?
A lawsuit by North End residents has tied up a proposed restaurant at the end of Long Wharf for so long the Boston Licensing Board held a hearing today to help decide whether to revoke the proposed eatery's liquor license.
The board votes Thursday on whether to continue to give the proposed operator of Doc's Long Wharf enough time to await a Suffolk Superior Court decision on the suit and to turn what is now a largely ornamental structure into a restaurant or to rescind his liquor license and award it to somebody else.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority, which owns the shelter, first proposed leasing it to restaurant operator Michael Conlon in 2007. The state Department of Environment Protection, which controls waterfront development, approved the plan. But ten North End residents sued, arguing the move would essentially privatize a part of a public park, which is illegal.
Although court arguments ended last fall, the judge in the case has yet to issue a ruling.
A BRA lawyer and planner said they were confident of victory and that the restaurant would help enliven the waterfront, because that's what waterfront restaurants do, by drawing people to the area.
Board member Michael Connolly asked the BRA's lawyer whether she had contacted either the judge in the case or the chief judge of the Superior Court system about getting a decision in the case. When the lawyer said she hadn't, Connolly, himself an attorney, said she should get on that.
Dennis Quilty, Conlon's attorney, said Conlon could begin work immediately assuming the court ruling does go the BRA's way, because he already has the financing in place. Conlon himself estimated enclosing the brick shelter and turning it into a restaurant would take four to six months.