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Ben's Deli Bay Terrace deal is dead

The 15-year run of Ben's Deli at the Bay Terrace shopping center will end on the last day of January, now that nearly two years of negotiations have failed to produce an agreement between the kosher deli and landlord, Cord Meyer development.
The first word of the impasse came on Friday, November 14, when Ben's released an “open letter,” saying that the deal was “killed,” with Ben's spokesperson Scott Singer declaring, “Cord Meyer pulled the plug at the eleventh hour.”
One week later, Cord Meyer issued a statement in response, “to provide the patrons of our Bay Terrace Center and the community at large with the facts relating to that matter and to assuage disappointment and concerns created by the unfortunate characterization of events.”
“We can sincerely say that in the 104-year history of our company, we have never made a greater effort to accommodate a tenant or spent more time and thoughtful effort to bring a lease transaction to fruition,” they said.
The two sides have different interpretations of the facts on which they agree. Ben's insists they “could not afford the pay the 86 percent rent increase that Cord Meyer demanded.”
Cord Meyer related that the deli owners told them “Our customer base is moving out of the neighborhood, and we can't afford any rent increase at all. We may be able to hang on for another 5 years.”
According to the landlord, “Our organization felt that there was a need to have a kosher restaurant with a fine reputation to continue to service the community.”
Both parties agree that ultimately, negotiations focused on a new location in the upper level of the shopping center, in the new construction around the Loews Movie Theater.
In addition, both agree that the proposed agreement included a highly-unusual move for a landlord, “building out” the new space to suit the tenant and providing the financing to do so.
Singer conceded that “It was a unique deal - [landlords] don't normally do that,” although he also pointed out that “The landlord would “get the money back with interest in the form of increased rent.”
A Cord Meyer spokesperson confided that “The unique provisions we made added to the complexity of the lease and is one of the reasons we asked them to bring in an attorney months ago, but they didn't.”
The lack of legal counsel may have led to the collapse of the negotiations in the final analysis.
The Cord Meyer spokesperson insisted that “we were very close,” to striking a deal and there were “just a few items to be clarified.” Singer however suggested that Ben's felt insecure because “they took the first store and leased it out from under us.”
What followed was an email directly from a principal at Ben's, which led Cord Meyer to conclude that they were “insincere” - and end negotiations.
“After all our above-and-beyond efforts to accommodate Ben's and serve the community,” the Cord Meyer spokesperson said, “The tone and substance of the email struck senior management as having a lack of good faith in us.”
For all the disappointment, Singer seemed conciliatory. “I can understand the landlord has to make a profit,” he said adding, “Negotiations get contentious, sometimes.” He insisted that it was “just about business,” declaring “Nobody ever said anything to me to make me feel otherwise.”
Kosher deli lovers can take comfort that both parties are actively looking to fill their needs.
Singer revealed that Ben's is actively searching out a site nearby. Cord Meyer also declared they were “committed to our patrons and shall continue to strive to see that a kosher food menu will be available,” from another tenant.
But in Bay Terrace shopping center, it's bye-bye Bens.

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