City officials have agreed to restart the bidding process for the ambitious $5-million Pier Plaza renovation project, but the start of construction is being delayed by concession owners refusing to take part in the project.
The city is trying to evict the owners of Sunny's from its beach-side food concession at the pier and terminate the lease of its business owners, TLC Inc. TLC was given 11 months' notice and should have vacated the premises but has not done so, Community Services Director Ron Hagan said.
"Construction could have started in November, but the city has to resolve its legal issues with TLC before it can proceed with the rebuilding of the parking lot and concession on that site," Hagan said.
Because initial bids for the Pier Plaza project were too high, city officials tightened bid specifications and the City Council this week approved a new 30-day bidding process. Because of the pending court case, Hagan said construction will likely be delayed until January or February.
Huntington Beach real estate business owner Tom Lewis, part owner of Sunny's and spokesman for TLC Inc., could not be reached for comment.
Lewis' company originally leased the concession site and nearby parking lot from the state. But the city inherited the lease in 1986 when it obtained a 99-year lease from the state on property north of the pier, which includes the business. Under the terms of the lease between Sunny's and the state, either party could cancel the agreement by giving six months' notice, Hagan said.
Councilwoman Shirley S. Dettloff, a former planning commissioner who has helped guide the 10-year Pier Plaza project, said an extended delay would hurt the city's efforts to rejuvenate the downtown area.
"It's so very dependent on the success of Pier Plaza," she said. "The entire city and the downtown area could be affected."