Shutting Down

Businesses to close at Merchants Wharf

Posted: Sunday, October 05, 2008

Some well-known businesses in Merchants Wharf will be closing their doors at the end of the month after not having their rental agreements renewed.

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Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

Doc Water's restaurant and pub and the space where Costa's Diner, Roll and Roast, and Chilkat Cone Kitchen are located in the downtown building will cease operations by Oct. 31.

Negotiations had been underway to renovate the first-floor areas for a new business, but the deal fell apart earlier this week after the financial crisis on Wall Street, said Daniel Glidmann, manager of Merchants Wharf.

"Thirty days ago I could have told you, if everything came together, it would be a new restaurant," Glidmann said. "At this point, I really don't know what's going on because of the economy."

There is still likely to be a renovation of that area of the building, he said.

"There's going to be some kind of partnership of some sort - and I really don't know what - doing something at the far end of the building where Doc Water's is," Glidmann said.

Doc Water's, which has been open in the location for four years, did not have its lease renewed and will complete its final day of business on Halloween, owner Jason Maroney said. Had the lease been renewed, he said he would have stayed in business.

Maroney said he understood the risks of opening a business in the waterfront property, which has been for sale for several years and is riddled with maintenance issues.

"They've been talking about tearing this building down since we opened," he said. "There were inherent risks in this space."

Maroney said he was preparing to renovate the space to make Doc Water's more efficient and was surprised to learn that his lease would not be renewed.

"What is happening is more politically and business related than the demise of the building, which makes it a little harder to swallow," he said. "But that's business."

Maroney said he is looking at his options and may continue to do some form of catering.

In 2006, Glidmann said the historic downtown building would be boarded up at the end of this year if it did not sell. He said Friday there are rental agreements that will keep it open until at least the spring and possibly beyond.

"The property is still for sale and aside from that there are a few things that are happening within our immediate vicinity that will affect our future drastically," Glidmann said.

Those include the construction of a parking garage across the street, and the potential construction of a new cruise ship dock, both of which would benefit the property, he said.

Chilkat Cone Kitchen owner Tony Tengs said he plans to reopen his seasonal ice cream shop next spring "one way or the other." The business has been operating out of the location for 12 years.

Tengs rented on a month-to-month basis for four years and said he knew this day could come. There could be a silver lining, he said.

"One good thing about this whole thing, Merchants Wharf will probably stay up longer, will probably have a longer life because of what is going on," he said. "That's one great thing. People love the building."

Costa's Diner owner Collette Costa said she also knew the risks when she began subleasing from Tengs four years ago.

"I've known since the day I moved in that at any time I could have to move out in 30 days and, to their credit, they have given me more like 60 days, and I do appreciate that," she said.

However, she is frustrated to have to shut down operations by the end of the month.

"For me it's really sad," she said. Costa's out of a job and a business, but she said the closure also is a community loss.

"It's been for the locals, and I've tried to keep those ideals for the last four years," she said.

There could be more information about the future of Merchants Wharf soon, Glidmann said.

"In a couple of weeks we should be pretty clear on who's building what, who's a partner in where, and all that stuff," he said about the soon-to-be vacant space.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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