The new owners of Tia’s Long Wharf LLC received a chilly reception this week from the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) for circumventing the neighborhood group regarding their major expansion plans. The project is a significant departure from the “status quo” presented last year as part of its license transfer from longtime owner, Lori Lilly. The new owners are associated with the Cronin Group (Jerry Remy’s, Fenway and Seaport).
Tia’s proposal calls for a two floor restaurant, bar and entertainment complex with roof deck at 200 Atlantic Avenue. The project has already received approval from the Boston Zoning Board despite the lack of neighborhood notification. This week’s council visit was set up by City Hall post-approval as a courtesy to inform North End residents of the expansion plans.
A doubling of capacity will bring the total occupancy to approximately 550 customers including those standing in the bar areas. An open air deck on the second floor addition is planned to have a retractable roof for year-round use. Proponents said they are working on ways to limit the noise to abutters using a glass railing. Tia’s 7-day all-alcohol license allows for a 2:00 a.m. closing hour.
Tia’s restaurant is located on the public parkland of Christopher Columbus Park abutting the North End side of the Marriott Long Wharf. The restaurant / bar has previously appeared before the North End groups under former owner Lori Lilly and most recently in June 2014 to increase the flexibility of their entertainment license. In 2011, former owners withdrew plans for expanded live entertainment and large outdoor screens after meeting with the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA).
Proponents received a pass from City Hall on having North End groups vote on the expansion project, leaving only the private Wharf District Council to weigh in on the proposal. The Wharf District Council is a self-appointed group of businesses and property owners where members pay $2,000 a year to vote at closed door meetings where neither residents nor the press are allowed. Stephen Passacantilli, Special Assistant to the Mayor and Nicole Leo, from the Office of Neighborhood Services, defended the new process at the meeting against objections.
Tia’s also appeared recently before the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park, although that group has not previously taken positions on zoning and licensing matters. Manager Kate Gorman said that FOCCP is supporting the expansion.
NEWNC’s Jorge Mendoza, among other members, expressed strong concerns regarding the slight to the North End / Waterfront as the most populated neighborhood impacted and abutting Tia’s Long Wharf. Vice President John Pregmon said that Tia’s is located in Precinct 1, Ward 3 of the North End voting district and its matters should come before the neighborhood. It was also noted that Greenway projects, such as the Parcel 9 hotel, regularly appear before NEWNC to secure North End support. Member David Marx added that the neighborhood is impacted as a late night destination for many of Tia’s customers.
In August 2013 during the license transfer process, Tia’s new owners said there would be no significant changes to the existing restaurant, that was owned and operated by former owner Lori Lilly for 32 years. When asked about that at this week’s council meeting, proponents said they just changed their minds a few months ago.
View the video above for the presentation and discussion. The expansion drawings handed out at the meeting are shown below: