Mrs. Green’s starting in November failed to pay rent for the commercial building in downtown New Canaan that it continued to occupy at least into the following month, according to a legal filing brought on behalf of the property’s owners.
The grocery chain breached its 20-year lease for the former Post Office building at Park and Pine Streets, according to an active suit filed with the Housing Session at state Superior Court in Norwalk.
In failing to pay its rent, common area charges and late charges, the actions of Mrs. Green’s amount to “unfair and deceptive methods of competition and unfair and deceptive trade practices within the meaning of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act,” according to the suit, filed Dec. 15 by attorney Stephen Walko of Greenwich-based Ivey, Barnum & O’Mara LLC on behalf of property owner ESP Pine Street LLC.
“Defendants’ actions were willful and intentional and were performed as part of and in connection with the goods and services it provides in the conduct of a trade, business or commerce,” the complaint said.
Officials from Mrs. Green’s could not immediately be reached for comment.
Closed in October after two-and-a-half years at 2 Pine St., the grocery chain had entered a 20-year lease through April 2034, according to the suit, and its monthly rent payments as of last fall were about $38,000. It also had agreed to pay about 59 percent of taxes and maintenance charges, a 5 percent late fee on rent and for legal fees associated with enforcing the lease, according to the complaint.
The property owner notified Mrs. Green’s on Nov. 15 that rent was due by Nov. 26 “or face action for default of lease.” To weeks later, the plaintiff presented Mrs. Green’s with an eviction notice, instructing the company to vacate on or about Dec. 6.
“In failing to pay the outstanding amount owed to plaintiff for rent, common area charges and late charges for November, 2016, defendants have been unjustly enriched to the financial detriment of the plaintiff,” the complaint said.
In an affidavit filed Feb. 3 in support of a motion for judgment, a manager of the LLC that owns the property said the landlord has incurred about $6,600 in legal fees and is owed more than $9 million in base rent from March 1 through the lease’s end date.
The landlord in that filing requested $213,724.46 in base rent and additional rent, together with late charges under the lease, from November through the end of February, plus the legal fees and costs and $9,035,679.87 representing the base rent from March 1, 2017 through April 30, 2034.
Mrs. Green’s opened in April 2014 and closed less than one year after pursuing a $100,000 renovation. The grocer encountered some speed bumps in the weeks and months that followed its New Canaan launch, as planning officials flagged conspicuous shopping carts and hiring signs in its windows. The company has shuttered stores in Stamford and Wilton. It has six locations in Westchester.