NBC 4 New York
A developer is ready to tear down Pier 17 to build a luxury mall but the owner of Simply Seafood says he has a valid deal to stay open until 2020. Andrew Siff reports
The shops at South Street Seaport's Pier 17 were supposed to close last week, but that hasn't stopped one last holdout restaurant from hawking fish and chips.
Simply Seafood is still open despite every other business in the shopping center closing down Sept. 9. The pier's landlord, Dallas-based Howard Hughes, is planning to demolish the mall in an effort to revamp the iconic lower Manhattan shopping center.
Simply Seafood's owner, John Demane, said he won't shut down the restaurant because Howard Hughes Corp. isn't following the terms of the lease, which he said runs through 2020.
“They’re not abiding by our lease,” Demane said. “Seven years on our lease is worth some money. Is it worth $50 million? No, but it’s worth something.”
A spokesman for Howard Hughes disagrees with Demane, saying the lease was legally terminated in 2005. The developer, which is planning to put a new luxury shopping complex on the site and hopes to begin demolition next month, is seeking an ejectment order to force Simply Seafood out of the center.
"We believe that we can move forward legally with the demolition without Simply Seafood's consent or cooperation," the spokesman said. "However, we are waiting for an ejectment order from the court and we are merely allowing Simply Seafood to remain open until we receive the ejectment order from the court, which we expect to receive very soon.”
Joe Demane, whose father created Simply Seafood in 1940, said the developers' stance is "bullying" and vows to continue to serve seafood as long as he can.
"I'm prepared to stay here with the wrecking ball when it's coming if I have to," he said.