Realty company sues city over restaurant lease

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 17, 2004

Plans to bring a return a riverfront restaurant back to Ironton's shores may be sinking.

A local company is suing the City of Ironton claiming city leaders have failed to honor a lease agreement that would allow the former Dockside Bar and Grill property to be developed into a new venue.

The matter was scheduled for a hearing at 9 a.m. today in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

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Tri-State Realty of South Point filed the action against the city last week. According to documents filed with the Lawrence County Clerk of Courts, Tri-State Realty is seeking an amount in excess of $25,000 plus attorney fees, court costs and other relief from the city for its failure to allow TSR the use of the riverfront property.

Attorney Craig Allen is representing the company. Allen said that essentially they are asking the court's help to iron out some details with the lease.

"Basically, the suit outlines a number of issues my client has with the city and the lease," Allen said.

TSR bought the lease for the 73,111 square foot property from the former property managers in September. Last month, the Ironton City Council amended the lease to include language that would define "restaurant" as it is within the Ohio law and authorized the mayor to enter into a contract.

But talks stalled.

Allen said two major problems are deadlines that are included within the contract. One calls for the restaurant to be up and running this week and another for a boat dock to be operation by June 2005.

Considering the entrance is under construction and no one can access the property, both these timelines are not feasible, Allen said.

"Plaintiff has on at least four separate occasions requested the City of Ironton honor the assignment of said lease and the City of Ironton has failed to do so," the lawsuit stated.

Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Frank McCown is expected to hear arguments today that includes TSR's request for a restraining order against the city.

The property has been the source of contention in the past. In June 2003, the city filed a lawsuit against the Center Street Landing and local businessman Robert Johnson, citing breach of agreement. At that time, the city was attempting to wrest possession of the property from CSL.

Johnson denied in his counterclaim against the city that he was in violation of the lease agreement. That was later settled and Johnson eventually sold the remainder of the time on the lease to TSR.

The original 30-year lease does not expire until 2018.