The Melrose Market’s big street fair planned for this coming weekend is, for all intents and purposes, the much-celebrated project’s grand opening. But, despite accolades from everything from the Seattle Times to the New York Times, a critical centerpiece of the project has remained in limbo and construction on the showcase restaurant space has ground to a halt even as we reported earlier this summer that restaurateur Tamara Murphy said she had won her legal battle with the Melrose developers to remain a part of the market. With Sunday’s party approaching, Murphy tells CHS that Terra Plata is, indeed, a go. “Terra Plata will open at Melrose Market,” Murphy said.
Despite her victory in arbitration in the dispute with the project developers, Murphy said that her future at the Melrose Market hinged on the development partners behind the project. “The ball is in their court and we’re hoping to come to some sort of agreement in how to move forward,” Murphy told Nancy Leson of the Seattle Times earlier this summer after our report on the arbitration. One of those partners, Capitol Hill developer Liz Dunn, told the Times there were still issues to be resolved even with the arbitrator’s decision.
At the center of the dispute was a bank of electrical meter bases in a part of the restaurant space Murphy said she hoped would be Terra Plata’s 20-seat private dining room. The legal battle was pitted over rent the developers said Murphy owed after the disagreement over the electrical work first flared up. The failure of the developers to provide an adequate space for a private dining facility hidden away inside the Terra Plata space is such a critical flaw, Murphy’s legal team posited in the court filings, that the agreed-on 5-year lease term with another 5-year option didn’t start last December as the Melrose Project contended. Murphy’s legal team said she didn’t owe the $8,223.77 monthly rent plus 15% of building expenses until the ‘defect’ was corrected.
Whatever was sorted out, Dunn is not talking. Yet. Neither is another backer of the project, Scott Shapiro of Eagle Rock Ventures. All CHS could muster from Shapiro was a terse, “We have no comment at this time.”
As for the Melrose Market Street Festival, the block around the market will be closed 10 AM to 8 PM September 12th and filled with live entertainment and street food. The festival will highlight the market’s vendors and will also feature a farmers market including vendors Finnriver Organic Produce and Grains, Sweet as a Bee Honey, Oxbow Farms, Marigold and Mint, Tonnemaker Hill Organic Farm, and others.
Meanwhile, Murphy hopes to open Terra Plata by the end of the year “before the holiday season,” she says.