Earlier this week, we noticed a story we hate to see - a long time business fighting with its landlord over rent. Angelina Italian Bistro, located in the M@dison Building, said that the mighty Bedrock had raised his rent and he was now battling eviction. This isn’t the first time.
Curbed was also sent the statement from Tom Agosta at Angelina and we’ve reached out to Bedrock for their statement (see below). Of course, there’s always more to it behind the scenes that we might never know. Is the rent getting too high for downtown businesses?
From Tom Agosta at Angelina’s:
“For the third time in less than five years Angelina Italian Bistro has received an eviction notice from Bedrock. The “reason” for the recent notice is that Bedrock failed to impose its own version of the lease on Angelina and created additional fabricated fees and charges that were “past due."
Angelina’s lease has a seven year option to renew which was exercised on December 1, 2016. As stated in the lease, new rent is based on "market rate" to be determined by a certified MAI commercial appraiser. The appraisal came in at $19/sq ft which comes to an additional $32,450 a year in rent which Angelina has already begun to pay. When Angelina refused to negotiate the already settled market rate, Bedrock fabricated claims of unpaid rent and electric bills. Angelina was threatened to either negotiate or pay the fabricated $162,351.53 in back charges.
Numerous times Angelina requested to see Bedrock’s appraisal (which allegedly states market rate at $37/sq ft plus 3% increases per year) and Bedrock refused to provide it.
Tom Agosta managing partner of Angelina Italian Bistro states ”we’ve celebrated 8 successful years under two landlords, and horrible economic times. We want to continue to serve a wide range of customers in a diverse community and thrive with other independent businesses.”
In addition, Bedrock has falsely accused Angelina of being 19 months in arrears with their lease, however all monthly Bedrock invoices have been paid by Angelina in full. Angelina attorneys are preparing legal action.”
In a statement provided to Curbed, Jim Ketai, Bedrock’s CEO, says,
"Angelina’s has been in default on its lease for over 19 months. Bedrock has attempted to work with Tom Agosta and accommodate him in countless ways over the past five years. We have worked diligently with Angelina's to try to resolve its continuous and habitual defaults without success. The bottom line is that Mr. Agosta will not pay the severely delinquent rent and the long past due balances that Angelina's legally, ethically and morally owes under the terms of its lease obligations.
In addition, Bedrock nor any of our family of companies will ever be intimidated by threats of attempting to extort favorable terms and special treatment by deploying the "...or I will run to the media" tactic. This is now the third episode where Mr. Agosta and Angelina's has attempted to leverage undue benefits by using this strategy. Allowing special treatment and habitual delinquency and default of basic rental obligations for one tenant is not only bad business but would be unfair and disrespectful to the hundreds of other hard-working, small business owners who lease space in Bedrock's buildings that all pay their rent in full and on time.”
What does this mean for other small businesses downtown? Will we see these kinds of disputes in the future? What are your thoughts, Curbed readers?