By Ray O’Hanlon
First Tommy Makem’s and now Eamonn Doran’s. Is their nowhere sacred anymore?
Doran’s, for years a cozy refuge for locals and visitors to the Big Apple alike, is facing a possible wrecking ball wielded by hardball New York City developer Harry Macklowe.
But the Second Avenue hostelry is determined to pull every legal string it can to stay open.
According to this week’s New York Observer, Macklowe wants to turn the site at Second between 52nd and 53rd Streets into a luxury apartment block.
But standing between Macklowe and his penthouse dream is the bar still adorned with the name of the late and legendary publican Eamonn Doran.
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According to the Observer report, the Doran family has filed suit against Macklowe in State Supreme Court.
The suit claims that Macklowe, who has bought up most of the block that contains Doran’s, cheated the bar owners out of an opportunity to buy a 99-year lease for the site from landlord Armand Leleonnec.
The suit alleges a “fraudulent scheme” by Macklowe aimed at thwarting the bar’s right of first refusal when its lease expires on Dec. 31, 2001.
According to the Observer, Claire Doran, who took over the business after her husband’s death, received a letter earlier this year from a Macklowe-owned company, YNDA LLC, informing Doran’s that its lease would be terminated as early as the end of this month.
The story quotes Richard Resnick, attorney for Doran’s, as saying that Macklowe’s lease is not a bona fide document in that it was designed “to improperly deprive our client of the right to match the offer to buy the building.”
Developer Macklowe has a reputation as a hard-nosed developer, one who doesn’t always stand on legal ceremony. In 1985, for example, he demolished a Times Square single-room occupancy hotel in the dead of night without the proper legal permits.
Eamonn Doran’s is mostly one large room that is frequently occupied by some well known diners and imbibers.
For years it has been home to the so-called First Friday Club, a gathering of Irish American writers, pundits and plain pint punters who include Frank and Malachy McCourt, Peter Quinn, Mary Higgins Clark, William Kennedy and Peggy Noonan.
Macklowe might yet find the club, and the Irish American community’s long-held attachment to Eamonn Doran’s, a more formidable obstacle than the planning laws he has treated as mere on more than one occasion.