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Mall landlord sues area Saks for allegedly owing $445K in rent

Saks Fifth Avenue is an anchor tenant at The Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota.

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  • | 11:49 a.m. October 28, 2020
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FIle. The two-story Saks Fifth Avenue store at the Mall at University Town Center is 80,000 square feet.
FIle. The two-story Saks Fifth Avenue store at the Mall at University Town Center is 80,000 square feet.
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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SARASOTA — A lawsuit filed in Sarasota County against luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue alleges the company is behind on $445,000 in rent payments at The Mall at University Town Center. 

Michigan-based real estate investment trust Taubman Centers Inc. owns the retail center near University Parkway and Interstate 75 in north Sarasota County. TB Mall at UTC LLC filed the lawsuit against Saks and Co. LLC Oct. 22, according to court documents. The lawsuit states that as of Oct. 7, “the principal amount of the Past Due Rent equals $445,436.25…”

Bal Harbour Shops, a luxury shopping center outside Miami, filed a similar past-rent lawsuit over the summer against Saks. That lawsuit alleged Saks owed its landlord about $1.9 million as of July 8, court records show. The case is closed, according to the Miami-Dade County Clerk's office, but a counter lawsuit Saks filed against Bal Harbour, alleging breach of confidentiality agreements, remains active. 

Saks officials, in both lawsuits, cite the pandemic for the situation. “We are working with our landlord partners across North America to amicably and logically share the losses incurred during this ongoing pandemic," a Saks Fifth Avenue spokesperson says, in an email response to a request for comment from the Business Observer on the UTC lawsuit.  "We believe that there are fair solutions to be had regarding this public health crisis.”

Specific to the UTC store, the spokesperson also says, “In this instance, we are eager to reach a fair resolution, just as we have done with other landlord partners, but will continue to assert our legal rights. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers in Sarasota.”

An attorney for Taubman, Kenneth Curtin of Adams and Reese LLP in Tampa, declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying the firm generally doesn’t comment on pending litigation.   

The two-story Saks Fifth Avenue store at UTC is 80,000 square feet, according to Taubman. The mall’s other anchors are Macy’s and Dillard’s. The Mall at UTC, which Taubman developed in partnership with University Park-based Benderson Development, opened in October 2014. The Saks store at UTC is one of the mall's flagship anchors, and it replaced a prominent Saks location that was in Sarasota, at the then-Westfield Southgate Mall. The UTC Saks store has been used for multiple area nonprofit gatherings and related events.   

According to the Saks Fifth Avenue website, Hudson's Bay Co. acquired Saks Inc. in 2013. Hudson's Bay Co.’s retail portfolio also includes Hudson's Bay and Saks Off 5th. Saks Fifth Avenue has 40 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Editor's Note: This article was updated to reflect the number and locations of Saks Fifth Avenue stores and the brands within Hudson's Bay Co.’s portfolio. 


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