On May 22, the Fall River Redevelopment Authority entered into a licensing agreement with Waterfront Promotions to develop an entertainment venue and bar at the City Pier.
RDA Chairwoman Kara O’Connell received a unanimous vote from the board and entered into a five-year lease agreement on the same day. The agreement will have Waterfront pay $6,900 per season which would be six months annually. The RDA also hired an engineering firm to start determining EPA restrictions for pier development.
The owners of the company are Luis Bettencourt and Rosa Fernandes who also own the restaurant BarCa. Fernandes is the mother of Jenny Fernandes, girlfriend of Mayor Jasiel Correia II. The two share an address.
O’Connell also announced that the Rhode Island-based Narragansett Brewing company and Waterfront Promotions entered into a memorandum of understanding for them to provide promotional services.
Bettencourt and Fernandes applied for a full-seasonal license on Wednesday May 29 with the licensing board. The licensing documents show the application process began five days before the initial vote from the RDA on May 17.
This would be the couple’s third liquor license in the city with BarCa and a planned Purchase Street restaurant with an already approved license. The full-seasonal license would reflect a capacity of 2,000 people.
O’Connell told the board Bettencourt and Fernandes plan to invest $190,000 into the project and would like to see it open on July 4. She also said the city and the RDA would be on the hook for fencing, lighting, restrooms and landscaping which would cost $400,000.
The RDA Chairwoman will discuss authorizing fencing contracts tonight at an RDA session.
Waterfront Promotions intends to have a full bar, stage and storage facilities installed in the first year and plan to have a pavilion ready to go in the second year. O’Connell said there are also plans to install transient boat docking at the pier for boaters.
Mayor Correia said at the May 22 session he was approached by some people interested but didn’t feel any of the options were the right fit. O’Connell told the board that no one else stepped up to the plate and that Waterfront were the first local owners to have the money and take the risk.
The mayor also reiterated that this is for temporary use until the Route 79 expansion and South Coast Rail are completed. There is a terminating clause in the agreement as well if the RDA decides to develop the property into a marina which was the plan.
In November 2012, the now former Fall River Office of Economic Development began the process of planning to develop the pier with with a 125-slip marina and other features such as a office space and restaurants..
In the Summer of 2013 the RDA was awarded a $600,000 grant in the second phase of that original city pier project from MassDevelopment for site assessment and remediation. The money came from the Brownsfield Redevelopment Fund. The city contributed $650,000 in matching funds.
In 2014, a Massworks Grant was awarded to Fall River for City Pier improvements valued at $1.6 million.
Then, in December of 2016 the Baker-Polito Administration awarded Fall River in $1 million from competitive Seaport Economic Council grant funding.
Approximately $4 million was publicly funded for the site.
Mayor Correia said at the most recent session of the RDA on May 29 the Environmental Protection Agency has been contacted by the city and the RDA as the authority board entered into a PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) Risk-Based Cleanup and Disposal Approval Conditions contract with the EPA.
In 2002, PCBs were discovered in the soil on the pier so as conditioned by the contract and the EPA marine-related development of the property is required, as is notification of an owner change or entering into a new lease agreement. They’re also required to notify the EPA if a non-permeable material is used to cap off the property like asphalt.