Celtic Gardens (photo by Brittany Nunn)

Celtic Gardens (photo by Brittany Nunn)


Building permit for Celtic Gardens (photo by Brittany Nunn)

Earlier this year we learned about a new concept coming to 2237 Greenville in the old Shell station at the corner of Belmont and Greenville. According to Culture Map’s Teresa Gubbins, the duo behind Social House in Uptown, Shawn Rao and Jonathan Serrano, planned to open a “food, beverage and games” concept there tentatively named Celtic Gardens. When the nearby neighbors learned the concept would also include a 9,000-square-foot patio where things like ping pong, bubble soccer, giant Connect 4, and Jenga would take place, they became alarmed.

“We had started to investigate what was happening, and then we saw the article, and it mentioned things like outdoor gaming,” says neighbor Bruce Richardson. “That’s not a restaurant. It sounds suspiciously to me like something else — some sort of outdoor entertainment concept.”

The district’s councilman, Philip Kingston, agreed.

“The guys whose names appear on the paperwork have been involved in a couple of club-type bars that certainly wouldn’t give anybody any confidence that they would be compatible with next-door residential,” he says.

Stop work order (photo by Brittany Nunn)

Stop work order (photo by Brittany Nunn)

According to city code, residential adjacency standards limit what activities can be within immediate proximity to single-family residential neighborhoods. Yet when Rao and Serrano filed a plan with building inspection, the plan advanced through the process and building inspection issued a permit to begin construction.

Construction began in October, and then building inspection “subsequently decided they were mistaken,” according to Kingston, and “shut it down.”

“That’s what the demo work was out there,” Kingston explains. “They were initially issued a permit, but then it was pulled away from them. The city tries not to do that, but if the city issues a permit and somebody points out, ‘Hey this is an error,’ then they have to pull it back. It’s just no good for anybody because people feel jerked around by that.”

The owners changed the name of the concept and resubmitted a new site plan earlier this month, but building inspection rejected that plan as well, Kingston says.

“I can’t imagine coming to a neighborhood and poking it in the eye any worse than these guys have done,” Kingston says. “If these guys have the idea that this concept is going to be some sort of outdoor party scene, I’m committed to doing everything in my power to keep that from happening.”

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