Looking for more evidence that rent is going up in downtown Detroit? Look no further than Angelina Italian Bistro. The Grand Circus Park restaurant is a tenant in Bedrock Real Estate’s M@dison Building and is the latest subject of a downtown landlord dispute. The Detroit Free Press reports that Angelina owner Tom Agosta is accusing Dan Gilbert’s development arm of trying to force him out of a lease with unfair rent increases.
Agosta alleges that Bedrock is attempting to increase the 5,900-square-foot eatery’s rent from $13.50 to $37 per square foot plus 3 percent yearly increases, but says an appraiser has valued the property at around $19 per square foot. The difference may seem small but it amounts to a discrepancy of around $106,200 per year. "They are looking to get as much money out of their leases as they can," Agosta tells the Free Press.
In response to Agosta’s allegations Bedrock’s CEO Jim Ketai has slapped back that "Angelina’s has been in default on its lease for over 19 months," something the restaurant owner has disputed on social media as a “total fabrication.” Bedrock plans to take the fight to court.
Angelina’s owner and Bedrock have faced off in court before over similar issues. According to MLive, in 2013 the two parties went head to head over maintenance fee increases, but the issue was quickly patched up after Agosta went to the press.
Now, once again facing legal action, Angelina’s owner released a statement today that Bedrock is threatening the restaurant with eviction if it doesn’t negotiate or pay $162,351.53 past due charges (rent and electric bills). Agosta calls the back charges “fabricated” and says he too is consulting attorneys.
This is far from the first time downtown restaurants have tangled with Bedrock. In 2015 reports surfaced that the real estate company was allegedly installing surveillance equipment on several buildings including American Coney Island and 1515 Broadway without owner approval. Bedrock disputed those allegations.
Update, 3:47 p.m., 12/21: In statement, Bedrock responded to the allegations of fraudulent charges by stating firmly that the management company 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.” Bedrock further calls Agosta’s leveraging of media attention as a form of extortion. Read the full response at Curbed.
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