PROVINCETOWN — Developer Christine Barker’s plan to demolish the Old Reliable Fish House, replacing its ruins with a luxury hotel, restaurant, and condo development, has been stalled for the last two years by a suit brought by abutters in state Land Court.
In what could be a giant step forward for the project, Scott Ravelson, who owns two properties abutting the development site and is one of the plaintiffs appealing permits granted by the town’s planning and zoning boards, has agreed to sell his holdings to Barker.
Ravelson owns 227 and 229 Commercial St., assessed by the town at just under $2.3 million.
The fish house property has no frontage on Commercial Street. Sole access from the street is via a narrow easement through an alleyway owned by Ravelson, who has argued that the proposed use would overburden the easement. Barker’s purchase of Ravelson’s land would clear that obstacle.
In a Dec. 28 court filing, attorneys for Barker and Ravelson asked that the appeal of the Old Reliable project be put on hold until May 30 to allow time for the sale of the property to be completed.
Once that happens, Ravelson would bow out of the lawsuit, leaving Patrick Patrick, owner of Marine Specialties at 235 Commercial St., as the sole appellant in the case.
All parties involved in the suit will have a conference with Land Court Judge Michael D. Vhay on Jan. 10 to discuss the motion to put the case on hold. Patrick was given until Jan. 6 to weigh in. Patrick, whose family has operated Marine Specialties for the last 60 years, said this week that Barker has not offered to buy him out.
Patrick said he wrote to the Provincetown Planning Board and to Barker during the permitting process in December 2019, arguing that the project encroached on his land.
“We haven’t had any discussions that answered all the issues this suit brought up,” Patrick said. “The most obvious issue is it needs to not be built on my property. The planning board said it wasn’t their problem; it was a civil matter. And I never got a firm response from Barker.”
Barker told the Independent on Tuesday that it was “way too early to comment; there’s a lot still to figure out.”
Ravelson returned a reporter’s call only to say he had no comment on his agreement with Barker.
Attorneys Sarah Turano-Flores, who represents Barker, and Peter Freeman, who represents Ravelson, did not respond to requests for comment.
Barker is looking to demolish the fish house structure, which was condemned after a fire in 2015, and construct a new building for a 31-room hotel, four residential condos, a restaurant and bar, a meeting space, and some parking. The plan also calls for reconstruction of the ruined pier.
The proposal was generally well received when Barker submitted it to the town in 2019, but Ravelson, Patrick, and Rob Anderson, who owns the nearby Canteen, filed the Land Court suit shortly after the permit approvals, seeking to annul them.
The judge put the case on hold last March to allow Barker an opportunity to tweak her original proposal to make it more palatable to the abutters. Barker’s revised plan, approved by the planning and zoning boards last summer, contained essentially the same components as the original but eliminated a 28-foot-deep section on the northwest corner of the three-story building and a handicap ramp, and reduced parking from 14 to 13 spaces.
The changes were enough to satisfy Anderson, who dropped out of the suit, while Ravelson and Patrick returned to Land Court to continue their appeal.