Crighton wants Athanases to face Lynn City Council

March 29, 2012
By Thor Jourgensen/The Daily Item

Ward 5 City Councilor Brendan Crighton wants the Athanas family to update the City Council at its next meeting on April 10 about plans to develop the Anthony’s Hawthorne site on Oxford Street.

Crighton filed a motion at Tuesday night’s council meeting asking Hawthorne’s owners to attend the April meeting.

“I want to hear what their plans are for the future of the site. I want to know what progress they are making. We want to know they are taking care of the property, even if it is vacant,” Crighton said Wednesday.

But a development consultant for the Athanas family said Anthony’s cannot be developed until a plan for cleaning up underground pollution is prepared.

Wig Zamore said the Athanases are “happy to talk about plans” for the Anthony’s Hawthorne site.

“They’re hoping the property will be more fully utilized, but we first have to review how pollution from Whyte’s Laundry is going to be handled. No one can do anything until there is a protocol,” Zamore said Wednesday.

An environmental study conducted by a Peabody engineering company found chemical traces in groundwater beneath the Hawthorne parking lot on Willow Street, located yards away from the former restaurant, city Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Executive Director James Cowdell said Wednesday.

“Contamination migrated from the old Whyte’s laundry site and got into groundwater under Hawthorne’s parking lot. The question now is, ‘What is the game plan?’” Cowdell said.

Located at Oxford Street and Central Avenue, Anthony’s closed in 2003 after eight decades of operation downtown. Its parking lot is located across the street from the United States Post Office on Willow Street. A vacant lot next to the post office is the former Whyte’s site.

EDIC’s board of directors voted in March 2011 to take Anthony’s by eminent domain, a legal proceeding involving an independent property value assessment and a state Land Court ruling. Cowdell said the EDIC spent $20,000 in taxpayers’ money to study potential environmental concerns associated with the Anthony’s property.

He said that process is still moving forward.

Cowdell acknowledged that a prospective Anthony’s developer will have to clean up the site, but he noted that two nearby downtown sites — 14 Central Ave. and a lot across from 14 Central on Andrew Street — are in preliminary development stages.

“Of the three sites only one — Hawthorne — has been a struggle,” he said.

Crighton called the Anthony’s site “a big part” of the city’s downtown development plan and said city officials want to work with the Athanas family to develop the site “in a responsible way.”

“It’s (been) dormant for many years,” he said on Wednesday.

Zamore said the Athanas family — owners of Hawthorne by the Sea in Swampscott and Anthony’s Pier 4 in Boston — could potentially be involved in redeveloping Anthony’s.

“The family’s happy with working with the city. We’re happy to talk about plans,” he said.

Crighton also wants an Athanas representative to update councilors on plans to maintain Anthony’s, following the partial collapse of its brick facade on March 5.

The collapse dumped bricks onto the corner of Oxford Street and Central Avenue. The building owners responded quickly to a call from city officials and cleaned up the debris, city Inspectional Services Director Michael Donovan said on March 6.

Bill Mahoney, owner of neighboring 47 Central Ave., would like to see the Anthony’s site cleaned up and developed.

“Redeveloping it so it’s not abandoned would bring more people downtown,” Mahoney said.

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at



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