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Upscale Eatery Can Open in Union Square Park, Court Rules

By Andrea Swalec | June 18, 2013 7:43pm | Updated on June 19, 2013 10:42am
 A restaurant legally can open in Union Square Park Pavillion, a judge ruled June 18, 2013.
A restaurant legally can open in Union Square Park Pavillion, a judge ruled June 18, 2013.
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MANHATTAN — High-end brunch is headed to Union Square Park, and the Holiday Market will be back this winter.

A state appeals court ruled Tuesday that a restaurant can open in Union Square Park Pavilion and the popup Christmas bazaar may continue to operate, knocking down a 5-year bid to eliminate commercial uses of the park.

The unanimous decision by the Manhattan Appellate Division will allow chef Simon Oren of 5 Napkin Burger to open a 200-seat restaurant on the northern end of the park, according to the city Law Department.

City lawyer Michael Cardozo said the decision affirms the Parks Department's discretion to allow restaurants and shopping areas to operate on parkland.

“Seasonal amenities such as outdoor cafes and bazaars enhance the park experience for city residents and visitors alike," he said in a statement.

Parks Commissioner Veronica White also praised the court's decision, which dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Union Square Community Coalition.

“Concessions like restaurants and holiday markets have been a welcome addition to the host of amenities in our open spaces for over a century and we are very happy that we will continue that tradition at Union Square,” she said in a statement.

Union Square Community Coalition board member Geoffrey Croft said he was disappointed by the decision.

"The Bloomberg administration and Union Square Partnership should be ashamed of themselves for trying to take away desperately needed play space in that community," he said in a statement. "It's disgraceful that the needs of the community and especially children — not to mention park policy — are allowed to be dictated by a [business improvement district group]."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg first announced plans for the redesign of Union Square Park in 2004, and some criticized him then for including a restaurant in the plan.