A restaurateur trying to build a restaurant-bar on an abandoned industrial pier revived his efforts yesterday, three weeks after the city liquor board rejected his controversial proposal amid neighborhood opposition.
Restaurateur Mark Denhard and his architect, Peter Fillat, took their drawings to the city's Design Advisory Panel yesterday for the second time this year in hopes of renewing efforts to get the tropical-style restaurant-bar built on a pier at 1820 S. Clinton St.
The design panel reviews architectural drawings and makes recommendations to the city's housing commissioner.
The pier, which is longer than a football field, is in an industrial area of Canton with a wide view of the Inner Harbor.
Mr. Denhard wants to rent the pier from millionaire businessman Edwin Hale and build the indoor-outdoor restaurant -- tentatively named BaBa Buoy's -- complete with palm trees running the length of the pier and an artificial beach at the foot of the pier.
After yesterday's hearing, the panel again did not make a final recommendation in favor of the project to the housing commissioner, said Robert Quilter, panel coordinator.
Although Mr. Fillat told the panel that Mr. Denhard was prepared to operate the establishment as a restaurant without a liquor license, the advisory panel clearly was suspicious that the project was designed as a large bar.
In written remarks after the hearing, panel members wrote: "The panel is astonished by the small size of the kitchen proposed. Is this a restaurant or what?"
They were also opposed to decorating the establishment with palm trees that are out of character with historic Canton and would die in cold weather.
The liquor board turned down Mr. Denhard's application for a liquor license March 23 after owners of nearby businesses, as well as city officials, objected to such a large restaurant-bar moving into an area that has been designated only for industrial use by a city urban renewal plan.
Yesterday Mr. Denhard said he is even considering building the restaurant without a liquor license to "develop a track record" as a good neighbor and then applying later to the liquor board for a license.
Mr. Denhard's goal for a liquor license could be hampered by legislation, passed by the General Assembly Monday night, that bans the transfer of a liquor license on much of the East Baltimore waterfront to so-called "megabars."
The law bans a new drinking establishment if its capacity is more than 150 people. Mr. Denhard's restaurant-bar would seat more than 200 people and accommodate many more standing.
Mr. Denhard said he hopes Gov. Parris N. Glendening will veto the bill -- which was enacted in the last few minutes before the legislature ended its session Monday night.
"The view is gorgeous and [the pier] has been standing there unused. The city has been losing business after business. Why can't we have one? We're not going to be in anybody's way," Mr. Denhard said in an interview yesterday.