Business

Seaboard’s Peace China files a lawsuit against the landlord, says it’s forcing them out

The shops at Seaboard Station photographed Wednesday, July 17, 2013.
The shops at Seaboard Station photographed Wednesday, July 17, 2013. ehyman@newsobserver.com

Seaboard Station retail center tenant Peace China has filed a lawsuit against its landlord accusing the company of trying to force the Chinese restaurant out.

The lawsuit filed in Wake County Superior Court names Seaboard Station of Raleigh, William Peace University and TradeMark Properties as defendants.

Peace China opened in January 2007, agreeing to a 10-year lease with an option to renew for two additional five-year terms, the restaurant’s attorney Sam Pinero said. When the restaurant’s owners asked to exercise their option to renew in 2016, their request was refused, according to the lawsuit.

Peace China invested at least $350,000 in upfits for the space anticipating that it would be there for 20 years, and is asking the court to enforce the lease, Pinero said.

Wei Zhao, a shareholder in the company who handles its day-to-day operations, referred questions to Pinero, citing the ongoing litigation.

“He wants a renewal,” Pinero said.

Seaboard Station, which is owned by William Peace University, includes 18 Seaboard restaurant, Ace Hardware, O2 Fitness and several shops and eateries in 92,000 square feet of space. The center, which was developed in the 1940s as a train depot and warehouse is managed by TradeMark Properties. Last year, TradeMark announced that a 55,000-square-foot Harris Teeter grocery store and a three-level parking deck would be built at the center.

At the time, TradeMark’s founder Billie Redmond declined to say where the store would be built on the site, but said no tenants would be forced to leave Seaboard.

Peace China’s lawsuit alleges the landlord hasn’t honored the lease and is trying to make Peace China move out by claiming that the restaurant’s owners installed a cover over outdoor seating without proper permission and didn’t pay a fee that Peace China claims is a wrongful charge.

Redmond declined to comment on specifics of the case, but said that Peace China has been offered several renewals only to turn them down.

“This is a tenant dispute and we are acting according to the lease document,” Redmond said.

Pinero said the company has been a good neighbor, a good tenant and paid the rent on time. It has not been offered more than a 1-year lease extension, and didn’t get any documents that the company could sign or agree to that would extend Peace China’s lease.

“This is what we call nitpicking to try and get someone out of their lease,” Pinero said.

The relationship between Peace China and TradeMark has gotten so icy that, Pinero said, the police were called when he tried to represent the restaurant at an informational meeting about plans for the Harris Teeter.

On Wednesday, Redmond said it has still not been decided where the store would be located in the center, but crews are expected to break ground in 2018.

“We’re working on different construction concepts and working through those details,” she said.

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