By Timothy Cox
WAPAKONETA -- The developer of the Dave's Market facility in St. Henry is suing the grocery owner for more than $2.3 million for breaking a lease.
Kriegel Holdings, Van Wert, filed the suit April 23 seeking enforcement of the lease agreement Dave's Market owner Dave Evans signed April 17, 2003. Kriegel officials say in the lawsuit that Evans has failed to pay any of the $98,800 in rent payments due the company through this month. The company also seeks the entire rent Evans would have paid throughout the 10-year agreement at $19,500 per month, bringing the total damages sought to $2,340,000 plus interest and the company's legal costs.
Evans closed the St. Henry supermarket this month, citing poor business. Evans has blamed a local boycott of his store as the reason for its failure, but he also has closed numerous other grocery stores in the region.
Evans signed a deal in April 2003 that called for Kriegel to build the combination grocery store/gas station/car wash on a 2.979-acre parcel that Evans would then lease and operate. Evans took possession of the $1.5 million development Nov. 29, 2003, and held a grand opening two days later.
Kriegel officials, though, say they have not seen a single rent payment, including the $1,300 due for two days of November. Dave's Market "failed and refused to pay rent ... since the commencement of its occupancy despite repeated demands by the plaintiff that said rentals be paid," Lima attorney Donald Witter said in court papers.
A clause in the lease agreement says Kriegel is entitled to full payment of the entire lease terms "should lessee desert, vacate or close the demised premises without lessor's prior consent."
Evans, who lives in Lima, could not be reached for comment at home or his company's Cridersville headquarters.
In addition to the monthly $19,500 lease payment to Kriegel, Evans also owes Mercer County $7,000 monthly to pay down a $500,000 revolving loan he accepted from the county. The county had to request an additional grant of state money to make the loan happen.
Mercer County Community Development Director Larry Stelzer said this morning that Evans technically is in default on the $450,000 outstanding balance on his revolving loan. Evans handed over a $15,000 check to county officials after all his inventory was sold, but county officials believe they were entitled to all the proceeds to apply toward Evans' debt.
"For all intents and purposes, he is in default," Stelzer said.
County officials have given Evans until Friday to come up with the $450,000 or he will face another lawsuit.
Despite looming court action and a defunct business, Stelzer said he is confident the county might be able to collect most or all of the loan money.
In a related matter, Kriegel officials have given a prospective buyer until Friday to finalize an offer for the complex.