On Thursday the 16th of November, the company that owns and operates the Jacksonville Landing buildings announced that they have sued the city of Jacksonville. They claim that the city has breached multiple contract agreements. The city owns the land beneath the riverfront complex.
Sleiman Enterprises claims the breaches make it impossible for the Jacksonville Landing to operate as a first-class retail property. According to the Sleiman Enterprises, the city sent the company a letter on Oct. 17 claiming a breach of the lease by failing to manage and operate the Jacksonville Landing as a “high-quality, first-class retail facility”. This is said to be a failure caused by the city and the reason for Sleiman Enterprises’ lawsuit.
“The whole reason this facility has not prospered like it should is because the city has never provided the parking it originally agreed to provide,” Sleiman’s attorney Mitchell Legler said. “We would have a successful property if the city would act in good faith and cooperate, instead of it being all talk and no action for the past 14 years.” According to Sleiman Enterprises, all exterior areas of the Landing are the city’s responsibility. The lease agreement, which the company says defines a symbiotic relationship between the city of Jacksonville and Sleiman Enterprises, mandates the completion of a number of specific projects and certain operational duties.
“The city has not provided the security that it should have, so it does have the reputation that it’s a bad place to be after dark,” Mitchell said. “I think, at night, a lot of people don’t want to come downtown,” Richard LePrell said Thursday as he visited the Landing. “There’s a lot of shootings.”
“We’ve had a few little crime issues, but nothing major,” Love said. “Some people complain about the way it looks. It’s the centerpiece of Jacksonville. We want it to look great.”
Legler said the lawsuit was Sleiman Enterprises’ answer to the city’s demand letter claiming a breach of contract for not providing a high-quality first-class retail facility. The suit claims that the city not only has not held up its contractual obligations, it has intentionally created obstacles.
The Sleiman Enterprises’ lawsuit cites:
Redevelopment: Since Sleiman Enterprises purchased The Jacksonville Landing in August 2003, the company has made multiple attempts to redevelop the property; yet, the city has blocked those efforts each time.
Parking: After nearly 30 years and six amendments to the Landing’s lease agreement, the city still has yet to provide any of the short-term parking it contractually agreed to with the Landing’s previous owners, carrying on to Sleiman Enterprises.
Security: In the lease agreement, the city agreed to provide the Landing’s exterior common areas with the same level of public area security and police protection as it provides its other public spaces. The city has failed, and continues to fail, to provide adequate police protection and security outside the leased property to The Jacksonville Landing.
Exterior areas: Despite having a contractual obligation to prudently maintain and keep the Landing’s surrounding exterior areas in good repair, the city has continuously neglected to maintain the exterior areas of the Landing and has even allowed the conditions in many areas to deteriorate, creating safety hazards.
Access: The lease agreement states that use and quiet enjoyment of the property is not to be impaired, yet the city spent more than a year on a 90-day project constructing the Laura Street roundabout, thus blocking access to the Landing. By contrast, Hurricane Matthew destroyed 75 percent of the docks and the city has still not repaired that damage 14 months later.
Sleiman Enterprises launched landingfacts.com to share its facts and information directly to the public.
“We’re being candid and transparent with the citizens of Jacksonville through this process since the Landing is an icon of our city,” Legler said. “It’s time that the city of Jacksonville is held responsible for its contractual obligations to the Jacksonville Landing.”
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