Grocery store's decision to close causes real estate disputes

Does a California grocery store have a right to close its doors and cease doing business in a community if it so chooses? The answer may not be as cut and dry as one might think. Ongoing real estate disputes in one town are centered on the topic, and all involved are waiting on edge to see how the judge will rule.

As it stands, there is a particular plaza that was the center of an agreement where ordinances permitted the building of 10 houses. However, a stipulation in the agreement marking the project as a mixed development required that a grocery store would also exist in the building, providing services to the public. In fact, terms of the agreement specifically state that more than 20,000 square feet of the building is to be maintained as a grocery store for the duration of the project.

The city filed a lawsuit against the real estate developer when the grocery store shut down. Since then, the property company has been fined more than $1 million for violating city ordinances. The real estate developer contends that no violations have occurred because the agreement stated that a grocery store must exist within the building, but it did not say the store must continue to operate at all times.

As it stands, a judge issued a preliminary injunction to stop fines in June. A trial judge recently hearing the arguments of the case extended that injunction. Both sides presented their cases and are now awaiting the court's ruling. California real estate disputes like this one are often quite complex. A real estate attorney would be a great asset in such cases as quick thinking and knowledge of existing real estate laws are often necessary to obtain favorable outcomes in court.

Source:, "Judge hears dispute over grocery store vacancy at Edgwood Plaza", Allison Levitsky, Oct. 19, 2017

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