Obermeyer tenant fight leads to suits | AspenTimes.com

Obermeyer tenant fight leads to suits

Eben Harrell

The developers of Obermeyer Place are seeking the eviction of a tenant who criticized the quality of her temporary retail space. Earlier this month, Mona Long, the owner of Main St. Quick Print and Copy Center, claimed her new location was uninhabitable and hazardous to the health of her employees and customers. The printing shop was one of approximately 24 businesses relocated by the construction of Obermeyer Place last May and June. The business was moved from its previous location on Bleeker Street to a building owned by Aspen Daily News owner Dave Danforth. Obermeyer sublets retail space from Danforth.Long complained that in addition to two sewer pits, the space has a noxious gas smell and a potentially toxic mold growing on the walls.Obermeyer attorney Matthew Ferguson said the eviction proceedings follow months of legal wrangling with Long, who revealed yesterday a lawsuit she filed in July against Obermeyer seeking damages for, among other things, losses incurred during the move,”My client has tried to work it out but they [the printing shop] have proven themselves impossible to work with and so they need to be evicted,” Ferguson said.In a separate decision from its eviction lawsuit, Obermeyer developers have also said they will probably not allow Long to have a retail space in Obermeyer Place once the project is finished. “The door’s not necessarily being closed, but it’s difficult to do business with someone who’s being adversarial in nature,” said Dwayne Romero, director of development for Obermeyer Place Holding Co.The lawsuit seeks eviction on the grounds that Long has neither signed a lease nor paid rent. It also seeks compensation for “damages for Obermeyer’s loss of use … and past, present and future attorneys’ fees and costs.”In a press conference yesterday, Long said Obermeyer has not lived up to promises made in the planning of Obermeyer Place. The development project was approved by the city of Aspen in 2003 largely due to the assurances of local ski-wear designer and developer Klaus Obermeyer, who promised equitable treatment of businesses displaced by the construction.Long said she has not signed a lease because Obermeyer nearly doubled the rent on her new space in direct contradiction with verbal promises made by her former landlord, Bill Murphy. Murphy agreed to give his retail spaces to Obermeyer’s project on the condition that Obermeyer find suitable replacement spaces for his tenants.”We were shocked to see this lawsuit,” said Lars Bart, spokesman for Main St. Quick Print. “We have the deepest respect for Klaus Obermeyer and we have to believe he’s being shielded from what’s really going on here.”Ferguson disputed whether Murphy made explicit promises to Long and said verbal agreements regarding land are not recognized by courts in any case. Murphy could not be reached for comment.Long said eviction would likely mean the bankruptcy of her business, due to lack of other appropriate retail space in Aspen.She is also continuing to fight with building owner Danforth and the city of Aspen over the scope and urgency of a cleanup of the mold and sewer pits in the building.Long wants her business closed for a month and an elaborate cleaning process that includes sanitation tents and workers in HAZMAT protection suits. Both Danforth and Aspen Environmental Health director Lee Cassin said a cleanup process of this scale is not needed.”I don’t know why they are harassing me about this,” Long said. “I’m not asking for anything unreasonable. I just want a safe place for my employees and customers and what was promised me when I moved here.”Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com

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