Lynn officials cheer cleanup of Hawthorne

August 17, 2012
By Chris Stevens/The Daily Item

Contractors put up staging equipment Thursday in front of the former Anthony’s Hawthorne and will start shoring up the brickwork today.

“We hired an engineer to help us out with the contractor selection and to make sure they hit all the things of concern,” said Athanas family spokesman Wig Zamore.

Zamore said workers would address the facade of the building, a portion of which came crashing to the ground in early July. He said upon examining the building the engineers also noticed a chimney at the rear of the property that was leaning and they would address that as well.

“I am glad the Athanas family is finally spending money on that building,” said Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Executive Director James Cowdell.

Ward 5 City Councilor Brendan Crighton said the repairs would offer the city some relief in terms of safety but questions still remain regarding long-term plans for the property.

The Athanas family, owners of Hawthorne by the Sea in Swampscott and Anthony’s Pier 4 in Boston, closed the Lynn restaurant in 2003 after nearly eight decades.

Zamore said the economy is the major reason the building has sat fallow for so long. He said despite new life coming back to the downtown area, it would be a significant job to reopen the restaurant.

He said the family has fully explored the idea of reusing or leasing the building.

“It’s quite clean inside, I think the city was surprised by that,” Zamore said. “And all the alarms systems are up to snuff, the city worked with us on that, but I really think it’s better off if the land is completely redeveloped.”

Redeveloping the land would likely be contingent on an environmental cleanup that could encompass much of the city block the building sits on, Zamore said.

Earlier this summer the EDIC spent $20,000 to study environmental concerns associated with the property. The study identified chlorinated BOC, a laundry contaminant, under the parking lot adjacent to the restaurant and across Willow Street from the post office, which is next to a plot of vacant land where Whyte’s Laundry once sat.

Zamore said he believes it is up to the city to take the lead in cleaning up the land but Cowdell he doesn’t understand that point of view.

“Why is he waiting for the city?” Cowdell said. “The city didn’t contaminate the land. It’s not city-owned property that’s contaminated.”

Cowdell said any contamination, despite the breadth, does not prohibit the Athanas from redeveloping the restaurant site providing environmental “safety measures” are put in place. “And that’s not me speaking, that’s the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) speaking,” he said.

Zamore disagreed at least as far as the cleanup is concerned.

“I’m not trying to harp on the city,” he said. “I know it’s tough to come up with the resources to address this sort of thing but that part of town really needs a wholesale fix.”

In the meantime, Zamore said, the family is cooperating with the city and eager to work with officials so they can move forward on the property.

“Hopefully these (contractors) will address the city’s immediate concerns with the building,” he said.

Crighton said the repairs are welcome but once they are finished it will be time for serious discussions about the future of the land.

Chris Stevens can be reached at


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