“There is a billionaire sitting in California who only cares about his profit at 71st and Jeffery,” Hairston told about 50 South Shore residents at a meeting on the process of replacing the grocery store that closed Dec. 28.
The grocery store still has a lease through May 2015 on the Jeffery Plaza space owned by Los Angeles-based Cannon Commercial.
“It sounds like someone who’s getting rent for the next year and isn’t economically motivated,” Koch said.
No one representing Cannon Commercial attended the meeting, and company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Department of Planning and Development Commissioner Andrew Mooney said the city is ready to roll out a package of tax incentives if a grocer and the landlord can settle on an agreeable rent.
He said Cannon Commercial is currently asking for rent that is about 40 percent higher than what the city thinks the market will bear.
Hairston said the city has approached the owner about selling all or a portion of the plaza to another developer, but the owner has raised its asking price with each subsequent meeting. The current price tag to buy Jeffery Plaza is $24 million, according to Hairston.
She said she even flew out to Los Angeles to meet with Cannon Commercial’s CEO, Shervin Mateen, but the meeting never took place.
Residents asked what they could do to help, but were met with shrugs from Hairston, Koch and Mooney.
Hairston said even as the city attempts to speed up the process while ensuring any tenant is agreeable to neighbors, leasing the space is ultimately a private transaction.
“At the end of the day, the owner can negotiate a deal, sign a contract and we’re stuck,” Hairston said.
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