In a remarkable legal move, Anthropologie, a division of Urban Outfitters, has fired back at Wayzata Bay West Retail, the owner of the Promenade, with a countersuit alleging a failure to fill the retail space with “first-class” retail tenants relieves the company from paying higher rents.
The Promenade’s landlord had previously filed an eviction notice against Anthropologie in February, citing unpaid rent and fees in excess of $180,000.
Anthropologie claims that it only owes “alternate rent,” which is equivalent to 5% of gross sales until the Promenade can lease more than 75% of its retail space to high-quality tenants.
The alternate rent is 2-3 times less expensive than the standard rent under the lease agreement, according to court documents.
According to original specifications published in 2008, The Promenade has 255 senior housing units, approximately 155 condominiums, a hotel with 100 rooms, over 130,000 feet of retail space.
Despite the wildly successful development of luxury condominium buildings like Regatta Wayzata and the Landing, the Promenade has experienced issues with filling its retail spaces, particularly on the interior of the development. The suit alleges that because a school occupies a significant portion of the West Block the co-tenant requirements in the lease cannot be met.
The challenge for the retail commercial space environment was apparent prior to the redevelopment. Long term Wayzata residents may recall that the shopping center, formerly known as the Wayzata Bay Center, was torn down in 2012 due to difficulties in securing retail occupants.
Anchor tenants The Foursome, The Pancake House, True Value Hardware, and Ben Franklin occupied large areas of the shopping center, but much of the old Wayzata Bay Center sat empty for extended periods of time and was deemed blighted and obsolete by the Wayzata Council in order to utilize TIF funds for development.
A more recent and significant closing was Lunds & Byerlys Kitchen located in the Superior Block of the Promenade, a test store for the upscale grocer who evaluated a combination grocery store / deli / restaurant concept that was a favorite for locals. It occupied 17,000 feet over three years at the newly developed site until corporate pulled the plug in 2017. Other entities have also come and gone over the years.
It remains to be seen how this legal battle will play out, but one thing is for sure: all eyes are on Wayzata Bay West Retail and Anthropologie as they wage war in the courtroom.
The stakes are high for both parties involved in this legal battle. This dispute highlights the challenges faced by developers and retailers in today’s rapidly evolving retail landscape. With the rise of e-commerce and changing consumer preferences, traditional brick-and-mortar retail spaces must adapt or risk becoming obsolete.
The Promenade’s retail struggles are in contrast to much of the retail space in Wayzata, which are filled with vibrant businesses and restaurants, notwithstanding a few closures of redundant coffee shops.
As the case moves forward, local residents and business owners are watching with keen interest, as the loss of Anthropologie could impact the Promenade and the Wayzata retail community for some time.
The article was edited on 3/14/2023 at 5:27pm to clarify that the dispute between the parties resides in the occupancy of the West Block of the Promenade of Wayzata, not the whole of the shopping center.
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