Gift and lifestyle store, House of Ireland, has repudiated a lease to operate from the redeveloped Frascati Shopping Centre in Blackrock, Co. Dublin, in a row over a works compound for 45 apartments at the centre, it has been claimed in High Court proceedings.
With the redevelopment due to be completed next month when the remainder of the shopping mall opened to the public, the centre landlords, IMRF II Frascati Ltd Partnership, says House of Ireland Ltd has repudiated the lease for one of the high-profile units.
House of Ireland claims misrepresentation in relation to a temporary works compound for the 45 apartments on the top of the centre which are due to be completed in August/September 2020.
House of Ireland says the landlord misrepresented the facts about the works compound relating to its location, as a result of which, it says, there was a repudiation of the terms of the lease.
The Frascati centre is being upgraded and extended, at a cost of more than €30m, from 100,000 sq feet to 170,000 sq feet.
It will include new retail units, seven new food and beverage outlets and extended car parking. Work has been carried out on a phased basis since 2017 to ensure original traders could carry on business.
John Bruder, director of Burlington RE Property, the agent for the landlords, said in an affidavit when House of Ireland negotiated a lease to take up one of the new units, it was on the basis of the exclusion of similar competitor brands who had shown interest.
The parties agreed the lease, with an annual rent of €175,000, would be held by a third party, in escrow, until the day after practical completion of the unit.
When the dispute over the apartment works compound arose, the landlords rejected the claims of misrepresentation, Mr Bruder said.
Last February, the landlords agreed mitigation measures to ensure the visibility of the House of Ireland store from the street as well as a pedestrian walkway to improve access to it.
The defendant insisted the lease was at an end and legal proceedings by the landlord followed.
Mr Bruder said with completion and handover of the refurbished centre due next month, a high-profile vacant unit, which House of Ireland was due to occupy, will be unsightly and have a direct negative ability to market the remaining units in the centre.
Mr Justice Robert Haughton admitted the case to the High Court's fast track commercial division this week on consent between the parties following an application from Kelley Smith BL, for the landlords. Gavin Ralston SC, for House of Ireland, said his client would be defending the case in full.
The judge made directions for the exchange of documents between the parties to progress the case.