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Waterfront clings to Lansing City Market

Ruling postpones eviction for riverside restaurant

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MONDAY, June 3 — Waterfront Bar & Grill can keep pouring drinks at the Lansing City Market till mid-July.

A state court ruling today struck down one of the last remaining legal remedies against eviction for the riverside restaurant as its owner, Scott Simmons, looks to keep his doors open inside the city-owned venue. The ruling — although it was against Simmons —bought his restaurant another 42 days of summer sales.

“They are taking every legal measure at their disposal, and it is significantly delaying our opportunity to repurpose the building,” Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said.

The Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority, under Schor’s administration, several months ago sought to end its lease with Waterfront. Simmons pushed back. A state judge — after a series of motions and hearings — eventually ordered the site be turned back over to the city.

Simmons, in yet another attempt to hold onto his business, filed to have that ruling again reconsidered by the state Court of Appeals. That motion was denied today, triggering another 42-day window for Simmons to essentially appeal his appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court or vacate the premises by mid-July.

Simmons and company Vice President Patricia Drainville didn’t return calls for this story. A receptionist for Liisa Speaker, Simmons’ attorney, said that Simmons hasn’t ruled out the possibility of yet another appeal.

“We’ve had very little contact,” said LEPFA CEO Scott Keith. “They just seem to be exhausting their options.”

Schor last month had hoped to bring a new tenant (possibly another restaurant) into the building by June. But the protracted court battle — based on a series of dated lease violations and a somewhat ambiguous clause about an option for renewal — has forced those plans onto the city’s side-burner until Waterfront makes a final exit.

Barring an unlikely appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, Waterfront will need to vacate by mid-July. At that point, LEPFA will hand over management of the property to the city.

Grand River Brewery owner John Burtka also previously hinted toward expansion into Lansing and the Lansing City Market.

Attorneys for LEPFA — amid a trove of legal briefings — previously labeled Waterfront’s appeal as nothing more than a “thinly veiled attempt” to extend its expired lease well beyond its agreed terms. It alleged that Simmons took an “ambush approach” to delay enforcement of the contract, according to filings from LEPFA.

Waterfront, should it be forced to leave the City Market, could also relocate to REO Town. Records show Simmons recently sought to move his company’s liquor license to a more secluded location on Spring Street. The existing license, however, cannot legally be transferred outside of a downtown development district.

“We are looking at all options to try to accelerate finality,” Schor added.

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