Loan Ranger Acquisitions, owner of The Mall at Sundial in downtown St. Petersburg, sued St. Pete Market Hall and BE-1 Concepts over an agreement to develop a dining hall in Sundial.

St. Pete Market Hall, run by the founders and creators of Armature Works in Tampa, has violated its lease, Loan Ranger said in the lawsuit filed Monday in Hillsborough County Circuit Court.

Loan Ranger, one of the companies controlled by Bill Edwards, also said in the complaint that St. Pete Market Hall was trying to buy Sundial from Loan Ranger at a steep discount. The St. Pete Market Hall lease contained a purchase option that allowed St. Pete Market Hall to purchase Sundial for $ 32 million, according to the lawsuit.

Chas Bruck, co-owner of Armature Works and BE-1 Concepts, could not be reached immediately for comment.

St. Pete Market Hall signed a lease for 28,500 square feet of premier retail and dining space on the first and second levels of Sundial, which accounts for about a third of the mall’s leasable area, according to the trial. Existing tenants were moved and the popular local market and Farm Table Cucina were closed to accommodate the planned dining hall, according to the lawsuit.

By May 12, Loan Ranger had completed all of the work he had agreed to do to prepare the space, and St. Pete Market Hall was advised that he could take possession by May 20. But St. Pete Market Hall has delayed obtaining the necessary permits and attributed the delays to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the lawsuit.

St. Pete Market Hall did not fulfill the terms of the lease, the lawsuit said, alleging that the operator of the food hall is “of the mistaken belief that as long as he can delay his own rent payment to the owner [Loan Ranger], he can force the owner to sell the sundial to the tenant [St. Pete Market Hall] at a lower than market rate.

Loan Ranger is asking the court to declare St. Pete Market Hall in breach of the lease. Loan Ranger is also seeking $ 6.5 million in damages.

A hearing date has not been set.


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