Harry Caray's Restaurant at Navy Pier is going to court to try to halt parts of a multimillion redevelopment plan at the pier, arguing that plans for a tree-lined aisle will limit foot traffic to the eatery and block patrons' views of downtown.
The injunction seeks to stop Navy Pier Inc. and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority from adding trees and planters outside Harry Caray's south-facing patio. The restaurant claims the proposed changes to the adjacent landscape will obstruct views of Lake Michigan and Chicago's skyline.
Harry Caray's spent about $4.6 million to build its outdoor seating area, which "was the primary reason that Harry Caray's leased the premises" in 2009, according to the injunction filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court.
Officials told Harry Caray's they plan to reconfigure the restaurant's patio and install "three rows of large 30-foot tall trees with branches that start 5 1/2 or 6 [feet] above the ground directly in front of Harry Caray's and its outdoor seating area," the injunction said.
Plans also include a row of planter boxes filled with four-foot-high prairie grasses, which also would block customers' views and could become a haven for rats, the restaurant argues.
The trees also would obstruct the restaurant's "recognizable" sign and hamper the restaurant's ability to attract customers, the injunction said.Harry Caray's also argues that the tree installation would not leave enough space for a fire-clearance path.
A spokesman for Navy Pier said the parent company has not reviewed the injunction, but "are familiar with the restaurant's concerns about the historic renovation of Navy Pier now under way."
"We regret that the business concerns of this one tenant have led them to file litigation in an effort to block or delay progress on the long-anticipated and announced renovation of this lakefront landmark," Navy Pier spokesman Nick Shields said in an email. "We will vigorously defend our position in court."
Navy Pier officials also have met with Harry Caray's CEO Grant DePorter "numerous times" to address concerns without compromising the quality or construction timetable of renovations, Shields said in the email.
DePorter could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
The injunction claims the redevelopment plans violate the terms of Harry Caray's lease. It asks a judge to permanently halt portions of the redesign that would affect the restaurant.
The two-part redevelopment plan for Navy Pier was announced in May 2013. It includes an expansion of the Chicago Children's Museum and creates space for new bars, restaurants and entertainment venues.
The first phase of the plan is expected to cost $115 million and be completed by summer 2015, according to a statement from Navy Pier.
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