Lynn begins testing of former Hawthorne lot

March 10, 2012
By Chris Stevens/The Daily Item

Soil testing began this week in the parking lot of Anthony's Hawthorne, one year after the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation threatened to take the land by eminent domain.

"We have an agreement with the Hawthorne and testing has begun," said EDIC Executive Director James Cowdell. "We'll probably know the results in two weeks. It's a quick turnaround."

On March 7, 2011, the EDIC board voted to take the 32,000-square-foot Washington Street restaurant and its adjacent parking lot by eminent domain.

The restaurant has been closed since 2003.

The parking lot, separated from the restaurant by an ally, is accessible via Willow Street and is still used for parking.

The Athanas family, which owns the property, says it wants to develop the land. Cowdell said conducting the testing, which will cost about $20,000, in the parking lot is the first step in moving either project forward.

Cowdell said testing was conducted in eight different places in the lot.

"They had to dig deep, down to the water level to find out if contamination from Whyte's (Laundry) leeched across the street," Cowdell said.

Whyte's, a dry cleaner, was long ago situated next door to the Willow Street Post Office. The concern for both Cowdell and the Athanas family is that chemicals from Whyte's seeped into the lot.

"We'll look at a.) is the lot contaminated, and b.) how badly and with what contaminates," Cowdell said. "When we get the results we'll meet with the owners and see where we go from there."

Cowdell said the contamination is a big concern because dry cleaning chemicals are considered some of the harshest and hardest to get rid of from an environmental perspective.

"They don't really dissipate," he said.

According to a Better Business Bureau listing, Whyte's Laundry dates back to 1898 and was incorporated in the early 1930s. It is unclear when it was closed.

"That's where we are and we're glad we're making progress," Cowdell said.

The restaurant made news earlier this week when a portion of the brick facade came crashing to the sidewalk. Cowdell, who has taken some flak for trying to take the property by eminent domain, said that only supports his theory.

"It's another indicator that something has to be done with the building," he said.

"We can't just leave it sitting there empty indefinitely," Cowdell said.

Chris Stevens can be reached at



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