The owners of the defunct Sarcoa restaurant on Pier 8 have expanded their lawsuit against the city and have now added Parks Canada, and Werner Plessl, the Manager of Hamilton Waterfront Trust, to the action. The amount of damages being sought has escalated to $14 Million–$4 Million to repay Sarcoa for their original capital investment in the restaurant and $10 Million for future business losses. Sarcoa was locked out of the building after it was ordered to stop playing live music on the patio, held back four month’s rent and launched a suit against the city and then Hamilton Waterfront Trust.
With regard to Plessl the court document alleges:
- That he knew from the outset that the plan was for live music to be performed on the patio.
- That he told Sarcoa the city noise bylaw did not apply to Sarcoa because it is situated on federal land.
- That the waterfront trust contributed $950,000 for the construction of the patio and outdoor stage.
- That all discussions and communications were to be though Plessl and that Sarcoa was not to communicate with anyone else.
- That Plessl “received drawings and plans from (Sarcoa) that specifically showed the patio and stage complex,” but “Submitted to the City of Hamilton drawings and plans different from those (Sarcoa) provided to him.”
In 2015, The Bay Observer examined the design documents that were submitted to the city planning department supporting Sarcoa’s application for a building permit, noting then that the stage complex was simply titled “bar”. A city planning staffer told the Bay Observer than had there been an outdoor stage clearly indicated, that it would likely have caught the notice of bylaw officers as the document was circulated through various city departments for comment.
With regard to HWT board members Jason Farr and Tom Jackson the filing states:
They were on the HWT Board of Directors and ought to have known that the lease allowing music was in contravention of city bylaws. It describes Sarcoa’s opening night in 2012. “Live amplified entertainment and DJ services were performed on the outdoor patio. Many representatives from the HWT, the City of Hamilton and Parks Canada were on hand. Following this event, representatives of the HWT and City of Hamilton praised (Sarcoa) for its vision…”
With regard to Parks Canada which is now added to the suit, Sarcoa alleges that Parks Canada negligently approved the lease when it ought to have known that the live patio music was a problem.
None of the allegations have been proven in court, and matters like this can drag on for years. In this case though, there may be some incentive for the City to bring matters either to court or to settlement. The portion of Pier 8 that is occupied by Sarcoa is now encumbered by the lawsuit, making it difficult to develop the lands. Sources close to the dispute say there have been informal enquiries from developers about the lands, which could generate significant tax revenue if they were to be developed along the same lines as the large planned community on the east side of Pier 8.
Meanwhile the Hamilton Waterfront Trust has released its 2016 financial statements, showing a $220,000 loss on the year and assets now depleted to minus 288 dollars. HWT has spent over $200,000 in legal fees in the dispute with Sarcoa. The two sides were to meet with a court case manager to select dates for discovery and trial but the city representative was unable to attend due to illness and no one was available in her stead.
Sarcoa noise: For three summers, Sarcoa was one of Hamilton’s most glamorous nightspots, until the music was shut down.
Sarcoa Jackson: Sarcoa Opening Night 2012, HWT board member Coun. Tom Jackson, flanked by amplifiers and musical instruments, greets the crowd.
Sarcoa Werner Plessl: Opening Night, Sarcoa owners Marco Faiazza (l) and Sam Destro (r) hold HWT Celebrate with HWT Executive Director Werner Plessl
Sarcoa Co-owner Sam Destro discussed the lawsuit on the Bill Kelly Show October 4th. To listen click here.
Click on the 9am hour and fast forward to approximately 9:35