anchors away

City Tries to Sink La Marina Reopening Plan

La Marina in Inwood, May 13, 2019.
La Marina in Inwood, May 13, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

The owners of the embattled waterfront hotspot La Marina were hoping to reopen by Memorial Day — but the Parks Department is throwing cold water on that idea.

The Inwood restaurant’s owners have no permits, no pathway out of debt and no operation plan in place, city attorneys said in court filings Monday that sought to boot La Marina for good.

The Manhattan River Group, operator of the Hudson River restaurant, has been in bankruptcy court for months following a tumultuous couple of years for the venue, which included a liquor license suspension, a drug bust and a political donation scandal involving a key partner.

Last week, the group submitted plans to use a $150,000 loan from a real estate group to repay debts and jump-start the company.

In that May 9 filing, the Manhattan River Group included details of the loan from Waterfront Hospitality Partners LLC and a revenue plan contingent on opening the week of May 20 for the 2019 summer season.

In an email to THE CITY, Manhattan River Group partner Josh Rosen said the company is “working hard to get open for Memorial Day weekend” pending court sign-offs and a go-ahead from the city’s Parks Department, which controls the outdoor restaurant and marina space at 348 Dyckman Street.

Moving to Revoke Licenses

A spokesperson for the Parks Department said the agency could not comment on an ongoing legal matter.

But in a response filed in bankruptcy court on Monday, lawyers representing the department said the plan wasn’t anchored in reality.

The city’s filing said MRG’s plan included no information about how La Marina will get back its liquor license, which the State Liquor Authority yanked May 1, according to the agency. Ditto for the restaurant’s public assembly permits, which expired in January, the filing noted.

La Marina’s owners also do not explain how they intend to “generate sufficient revenue to cover its costs,” city lawyers said.

As for a May opening, city officials are not only doubtful that MRG could pull that off but want to revoke their operating licenses entirely, according to another filing made late Monday.

A beach section of La Marina overlooking the Hudson River, on May 13, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

“The Debtor has defaulted on its obligations under both the Restaurant License and the Marina License,” wrote City Law Department attorney Zachary Kass. “This has caused — and continues to cause — substantial harm to the City and to the public interest.”

While the court case continues, the La Marina site remains closed and nearly empty.

A previous plan for Brother Jimmy’s to run the restaurant appears to be on hold. The BBQ chain had said it may bring a proposal about the idea to a local community board committee meeting.

But as of Monday, the board had not heard from Brother Jimmy’s executives. Representatives for Brother Jimmy’s did not respond to inquiries from THE CITY.

The docks at the boat marina are getting some use by the nonprofit Hudson River Community Sailing group, which has begun summer programming and plans to “operate as close to normal as we can” as the bankruptcy proceedings take place, a representative said.

La Marina first opened in 2012 with an agreement to operate for 15 years.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who has been following the negotiations over La Marina, urged the city to reopen the site, which is costing lost revenue, local jobs and green space, she said.

“It is my hope that the Parks Department can find a way to make this space open to the community once again,” she said.

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