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General News

Pier A Harbor House’s Greek-American Owners Owe NYC $32M in Rent

NEW YORK – An ABC7 Eyewitness News investigation found that Harry and Peter Poulakakos, the Greek-American owners of a Lower Manhattan restaurant which closed in 2020, owe New York City $32 million in rent.

“When Pier A Harbor House opened in 2014, it was hailed as the next best event venue in Manhattan, providing spectacular views of the Hudson River, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty from the building’s three-story, 28,000-square foot collection of dining venues,” ABC7 reported, adding that “New York City spent $30 million in city taxpayer money renovating the historic Victorian pier to make way for the venue.”

“In exchange, the owners of Pier A – father and son Harry and Peter Poulakakos- signed a 25-year lease with the city promising to make $39.1 million in rental payments to the city over the course of the lease,” ABC7 reported, noting that “Pier A closed its doors in March 2020 due to the pandemic but never reopened.”

“The rest of the Poulakakoses restaurants throughout the city, including Harry’s NYC, Adrienne’s Pizza Bar, and Le District eventually did,” ABC7 reported, adding that “according to a $16.5 million lawsuit filed by Pier A’s lenders against the Poulakakoses and their business partners, Pier A tendered the keys to the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) in August 2020.”
“Pier A began to fall behind in its rental payments to New York City beginning in 2018, according to the lawsuit,” ABC7 reported.

“Defendants also misled Plaintiff about Borrower’s finances during the course of the Loan, and concealed the fact that, between February 2018 and October 2018, it had completely ceased paying the rent it owed to BPCA under the Lease, until it finally faced total dispossession of the Premises,” the lawsuit read, ABC7 reported, adding that “a judge eventually dismissed the lawsuit saying the lenders’ claims against Pier A for fraud and negligent misrepresentation were not sufficiently proved.”

“Eyewitness News learned of the issues around Pier A while with the Long Island Advocate- Hofstra University’s online news site – investigating 12 class action lawsuits filed by workers at restaurants owned by the Poulakakoses and their partners, including Pier A, for wage theft,” ABC7 reported, noting that “the Poulakakoses and their partners have agreed to pay more than $1.9 million to dozens of employees and the employees’ lawyers in 10 of the lawsuits.”

“In the settlements, Peter Poulakakos and others admit no wrongdoing and their attorneys ‘sharply’ and ‘vigorously’ contest the allegations against their clients’ businesses,” ABC7 reported, adding that “two of the lawsuits – one against Adrienne’s Pizza Bar and the other against Le District – have yet to be decided.”

“Workers at Pier A filed two class-action wage theft lawsuits against the Poulakakoses in 2017 and 2019,” ABC7 reported, pointing out that “in both cases, the workers claimed they were paid less than minimum wage and that their employers allowed non-tipped employees to share in their tips,” and “both lawsuits were settled for a combined $475,000.”

“The Battery Park City Authority, a public-benefit corporation, declined through its public affairs consultant Risa Heller Communications to speak with Eyewitness News about Pier A and what will become of the $32 million the Poulakakoses still owe New York City,” ABC7 reported, adding that “the BPCA also would not comment on who currently owns the Pier A building.”
“New York City Councilman Christopher Marte said he too has been trying to figure out what is going on with Pier A,” ABC7 reported.

“No one wants to see an empty beautiful pier in Lower Manhattan,” he told Eyewitness News. “I think we should use it for tourism. The city needs the money to bounce back.”

Of the litigation, Marte said: “We just want it to be over with, so we can have a plan of action on what to do next,” ABC7 reported.

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