JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- The fight between the owners of the Jacksonville Landing and the city has hit a new level. Sleiman Enterprises, who operates The Landing, has filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming the city has not met its contractual obligations and has "intentionally created obstacles against a successful Jacksonville Landing."
The lawsuit is in response to an October 17 letter from the city, claiming Sleiman breached their lease with the city by failing to manage The Landing as a "first class retail facility."
“We must stand up to the unfair tactics used by the city’s political leaders. We would have a successful property if the city would act in good faith and cooperate instead of it being all talk and no action for the past 14 years.” Sleiman spokesman Mitchell Legler said in statement.
In June, Mayor Lenny Curry told the Times-Union editorial board that “I’m prepared to take the Landing… I’m prepared for the city to have it and to begin in a very public way determining what its best and highest use is...We’ve got a plan internally to put the screws and keep pushing this.”
The Mayor said the city had made offers to buy Sleiman out of their long-term lease of The Landing.
The lawsuit claims that the city hasn’t held up its contractual obligations and, instead of working with Sleiman Enterprises over the past 14 years, it has in fact intentionally created obstacles against a successful Jacksonville Landing.
The suit cites:
- Redevelopment: Since Sleiman Enterprises purchased The Jacksonville Landing in August 2003, the company has made multiple attempts to redevelop the property; yet, the city has blocked those efforts each time
- Parking: After nearly 30 years and six amendments to the Landing’s lease agreement, the city still has yet to provide any of the short-term parking it contractually agreed to with the Landing’s previous owners, carrying on to Sleiman Enterprises.
- Security: In the lease agreement, the city agreed to provide the Landing’s exterior common areas with the same level of public area security and police protection as it provides its other public spaces. The city has failed, and continues to fail, to provide adequate police protection and security outside the leased property to The Jacksonville Landing.
- Exterior areas: Despite having a contractual obligation to prudently maintain and keep the Landing’s surrounding exterior areas in good repair, the city has continuously neglected to maintain the exterior areas of the Landing and has even allowed the conditions in many areas to deteriorate, creating safety hazards.
- Access: The lease agreement states that use and quiet enjoyment of the property is not to be impaired, yet the city spent more than a year on a 90-day project constructing the Laura Street roundabout, thus blocking access to the Landing. By contrast, Hurricane Matthew destroyed 75 percent of the docks and the city has still not repaired that damage 14 months later.
“We’re being candid and transparent with the citizens of Jacksonville through this process since the Landing is an icon of our city,” Legler said. “It’s time that the city of Jacksonville is held responsible for its contractual obligations to the Jacksonville Landing.”
City Spokesperson Tia Ford tells First Coast News that they are not going to comment on the pending litigation.