Dreschel | Sarcoa vs City of Hamilton: The case of the missing parking spaces

Opinion Jun 29, 2016 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Bad enough that harbour restaurant Sarcoa is locked in a legal battle with the city and Hamilton Waterfront Trust over the right to play amplified patio music.

Now the owners suspect there's a move afoot to drive the upscale restaurant from its prime bayfront location.

"We believe we're being squeezed out," says co-owner Sam Destro.

Destro jumped to that conclusion after noting the recently released redevelopment plans for the west harbour show Sarcoa's existing 120 parking spots eliminated and replaced by mostly green space.

According to Destro, the parking spots adjacent to Sarcoa are guaranteed in its 10-year lease agreement with the Waterfront Trust, which is now the subject of a $15-million lawsuit.

City officials deny they're trying to get rid of the restaurant.

They say Sarcoa's designated parking spots are, in fact, included in the total 1,400 parking spaces planned for the $600-million dollar residential and commercial development on Piers 7 and 8.

Calling Sarcoa a "key anchor" for Pier 8 today, senior project adviser Chris Phillips says the restaurant's future parking may be included in a centralized parking complex or incorporated in another building.

He also notes that the massive development project is phased. "It wouldn't actually effect their parking today until Phase 3 of the development, which is probably some 10 years down the road."

Still, the plans are clearly stoking Sarcoa's suspicions.

"If one day they want to remove (the parking), they're going to have to pay for it — at $35,000 a spot," says Destro.

Destro and his partner Marco Faiazza sublease the Hamilton Waterfront Trust Centre on Pier 8 from the trust. The building, formerly owned by the federal government, now belongs to the city. The partners allege Sarcoa's business model was predicated on patio parties and that the trust broke its lease agreement by not exempting it from the city's noise bylaws and the contentious zoning ban against live and amplified music.

The trust denies the allegations, none of which have been proven in court.

With its signature patio and dazzling views of the bay, Sarcoa was greeted as a harbinger of harbour renewal when it opened in 2012. But after some three years of operation, the city began to crack down on its thumping dance music in response to complaints from area neighbours and as far away as Burlington's lakeshore.

The restaurant reluctantly stopped its outdoor bashes last summer and launched its lawsuit that fall.

However, pleading business necessity, Sarcoa announced this week that it's resuming its patio music program starting Friday, Canada Day. Destro is promising lower volumes, better sound muffling techniques, and a dialed back music format.

How that plays out remains to be seen.

Burlington Coun. Rick Craven says he's already heard from some Aldershot residents who are worried about loud music once again travelling across the water to their homes.

He's encouraging them to complain to Hamilton's bylaw enforcement team if things get out of hand.

Craven assumes and expects Hamilton will continue to enforce its noise bylaws. Still, he's comforted by Sarcoa's comments about taking steps to mitigate sound levels.

"It shows that they care and that they're trying. And of course we don't want to shut down entertainment opportunities on the Hamilton waterfront. We want to encourage them. But there has to be a question of balance and common sense."

"Partying until midnight is one thing; noise until two in the morning is another."

For his part, ward Coun. Jason Farr says he looks forward to city staff's report next week on possibly easing the ban on patio music.

That said, Farr notes that notwithstanding its noise dampening efforts, Sarcoa will still be "circumventing" the existing bylaw this weekend.

"And that is a bit concerning."

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. adreschel@thespec.com 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel

Dreschel | Sarcoa vs City of Hamilton: The case of the missing parking spaces

Waterfront restaurant owners say city wants them out

Opinion Jun 29, 2016 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Bad enough that harbour restaurant Sarcoa is locked in a legal battle with the city and Hamilton Waterfront Trust over the right to play amplified patio music.

Now the owners suspect there's a move afoot to drive the upscale restaurant from its prime bayfront location.

"We believe we're being squeezed out," says co-owner Sam Destro.

Destro jumped to that conclusion after noting the recently released redevelopment plans for the west harbour show Sarcoa's existing 120 parking spots eliminated and replaced by mostly green space.

According to Destro, the parking spots adjacent to Sarcoa are guaranteed in its 10-year lease agreement with the Waterfront Trust, which is now the subject of a $15-million lawsuit.

City officials deny they're trying to get rid of the restaurant.

They say Sarcoa's designated parking spots are, in fact, included in the total 1,400 parking spaces planned for the $600-million dollar residential and commercial development on Piers 7 and 8.

Calling Sarcoa a "key anchor" for Pier 8 today, senior project adviser Chris Phillips says the restaurant's future parking may be included in a centralized parking complex or incorporated in another building.

He also notes that the massive development project is phased. "It wouldn't actually effect their parking today until Phase 3 of the development, which is probably some 10 years down the road."

Still, the plans are clearly stoking Sarcoa's suspicions.

"If one day they want to remove (the parking), they're going to have to pay for it — at $35,000 a spot," says Destro.

Destro and his partner Marco Faiazza sublease the Hamilton Waterfront Trust Centre on Pier 8 from the trust. The building, formerly owned by the federal government, now belongs to the city. The partners allege Sarcoa's business model was predicated on patio parties and that the trust broke its lease agreement by not exempting it from the city's noise bylaws and the contentious zoning ban against live and amplified music.

The trust denies the allegations, none of which have been proven in court.

With its signature patio and dazzling views of the bay, Sarcoa was greeted as a harbinger of harbour renewal when it opened in 2012. But after some three years of operation, the city began to crack down on its thumping dance music in response to complaints from area neighbours and as far away as Burlington's lakeshore.

The restaurant reluctantly stopped its outdoor bashes last summer and launched its lawsuit that fall.

However, pleading business necessity, Sarcoa announced this week that it's resuming its patio music program starting Friday, Canada Day. Destro is promising lower volumes, better sound muffling techniques, and a dialed back music format.

How that plays out remains to be seen.

Burlington Coun. Rick Craven says he's already heard from some Aldershot residents who are worried about loud music once again travelling across the water to their homes.

He's encouraging them to complain to Hamilton's bylaw enforcement team if things get out of hand.

Craven assumes and expects Hamilton will continue to enforce its noise bylaws. Still, he's comforted by Sarcoa's comments about taking steps to mitigate sound levels.

"It shows that they care and that they're trying. And of course we don't want to shut down entertainment opportunities on the Hamilton waterfront. We want to encourage them. But there has to be a question of balance and common sense."

"Partying until midnight is one thing; noise until two in the morning is another."

For his part, ward Coun. Jason Farr says he looks forward to city staff's report next week on possibly easing the ban on patio music.

That said, Farr notes that notwithstanding its noise dampening efforts, Sarcoa will still be "circumventing" the existing bylaw this weekend.

"And that is a bit concerning."

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. adreschel@thespec.com 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel

Dreschel | Sarcoa vs City of Hamilton: The case of the missing parking spaces

Waterfront restaurant owners say city wants them out

Opinion Jun 29, 2016 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Bad enough that harbour restaurant Sarcoa is locked in a legal battle with the city and Hamilton Waterfront Trust over the right to play amplified patio music.

Now the owners suspect there's a move afoot to drive the upscale restaurant from its prime bayfront location.

"We believe we're being squeezed out," says co-owner Sam Destro.

Destro jumped to that conclusion after noting the recently released redevelopment plans for the west harbour show Sarcoa's existing 120 parking spots eliminated and replaced by mostly green space.

According to Destro, the parking spots adjacent to Sarcoa are guaranteed in its 10-year lease agreement with the Waterfront Trust, which is now the subject of a $15-million lawsuit.

City officials deny they're trying to get rid of the restaurant.

They say Sarcoa's designated parking spots are, in fact, included in the total 1,400 parking spaces planned for the $600-million dollar residential and commercial development on Piers 7 and 8.

Calling Sarcoa a "key anchor" for Pier 8 today, senior project adviser Chris Phillips says the restaurant's future parking may be included in a centralized parking complex or incorporated in another building.

He also notes that the massive development project is phased. "It wouldn't actually effect their parking today until Phase 3 of the development, which is probably some 10 years down the road."

Still, the plans are clearly stoking Sarcoa's suspicions.

"If one day they want to remove (the parking), they're going to have to pay for it — at $35,000 a spot," says Destro.

Destro and his partner Marco Faiazza sublease the Hamilton Waterfront Trust Centre on Pier 8 from the trust. The building, formerly owned by the federal government, now belongs to the city. The partners allege Sarcoa's business model was predicated on patio parties and that the trust broke its lease agreement by not exempting it from the city's noise bylaws and the contentious zoning ban against live and amplified music.

The trust denies the allegations, none of which have been proven in court.

With its signature patio and dazzling views of the bay, Sarcoa was greeted as a harbinger of harbour renewal when it opened in 2012. But after some three years of operation, the city began to crack down on its thumping dance music in response to complaints from area neighbours and as far away as Burlington's lakeshore.

The restaurant reluctantly stopped its outdoor bashes last summer and launched its lawsuit that fall.

However, pleading business necessity, Sarcoa announced this week that it's resuming its patio music program starting Friday, Canada Day. Destro is promising lower volumes, better sound muffling techniques, and a dialed back music format.

How that plays out remains to be seen.

Burlington Coun. Rick Craven says he's already heard from some Aldershot residents who are worried about loud music once again travelling across the water to their homes.

He's encouraging them to complain to Hamilton's bylaw enforcement team if things get out of hand.

Craven assumes and expects Hamilton will continue to enforce its noise bylaws. Still, he's comforted by Sarcoa's comments about taking steps to mitigate sound levels.

"It shows that they care and that they're trying. And of course we don't want to shut down entertainment opportunities on the Hamilton waterfront. We want to encourage them. But there has to be a question of balance and common sense."

"Partying until midnight is one thing; noise until two in the morning is another."

For his part, ward Coun. Jason Farr says he looks forward to city staff's report next week on possibly easing the ban on patio music.

That said, Farr notes that notwithstanding its noise dampening efforts, Sarcoa will still be "circumventing" the existing bylaw this weekend.

"And that is a bit concerning."

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. adreschel@thespec.com 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel