Monday, September 08, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — After sitting idle for about five years, it appears Eric Suher’s liquor license will be put to use.
The city’s three-member License Commission unanimously approved the transfer of the license from the still-dormant and unfinished former Baptist Church, 298 Main St., near West Street, to the former Blue Note Guitars building on Center Street.
According to Suher, the new bar, called the Green Room, will be set to open within two weeks of the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission’s approval of the transfer.
Suher said at the License Commission’s meeting Wednesday afternoon that ABCC approval could take a couple of days and it might be a week after that before he can arrange liquor deliveries and begin advertising.
In an interview outside the Puchalski Municipal Building after the meeting, Suher declined to comment on the progress of the church renovations except to say they are continuing.
At the meeting, Suher presented the paperwork required for the license transfer, including a certificate from the Board of Health.
Suher, owner of several properties in the region and the Iron Horse Entertainment Group, said the Green Room will not t have a full kitchen but will serve “light fare” and “bar food” and will be open Tuesdays through Sundays.
The 1,700-square-foot Green Room had a license attached to it, but that was revoked in May after not having been used for about five years and after Suher missed several deadlines to put it in operation.
Suher told the commission in February the Green Room would be operating by April 1. The license was revoked when the commission determined that it was a “pocket license” — one that is purchased, but never used.
Suher faced similar revocation of the license for the church, for which he plans an event and banquet facility. That license also has not been used since it was issued in 2009. Suher failed to meet deadlines set by the License Commission to put it to use.
In July, Suher requested approval from the commission to transfer the license to the Green Room, which he said would be ready to open much sooner than the church.
At July’s meeting, Suher said a target date of October to have the 15,000-square-foot church property open was not likely to be met due to construction delays.
The commission gave Suher until Wednesday’s meeting to have all of the necessary paperwork in order before it would consider approving the transfer.
Meanwhile, the city is accepting applications for the license that was revoked and is now available.
Northampton has a limited number of licenses available to provide to businesses. About 12 people have expressed interest in purchasing the license when it becomes available, according to the commission.
Suher will not be able to apply for it, because one of the conditions set by the commission is that new applicants cannot have had a license revoked or canceled.
Application packets are available from the city.
The applicants will be reviewed in late September and if the commission gets approval from City Solicitor Alan Seewald, the winner would be selected via a lottery in early October.
Other imposed conditions include the winning applicant having to convert the license —now a seasonal license — to a year-round license for a one-time fee of $10,000. Also, the license would have to be put to use within six months of its approval by the ABCC.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.