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August 17, 2018

Court rules Ocean State Job Lot can stay in Falmouth Shopping Center

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
Ocean State Job Lot, which moved into the Falmouth Shopping Center, on Route 1, in October, can stay after a Maine court overruled the owners' attempt to evict the store.

Discount goods retailer Ocean State Job Lot can stay in Falmouth Shopping Center, the Maine Business and Consumer Court ruled this week.

The owners of the center on U.S. Route 1 served an eviction notice to the Rhode Island-based store when they bought the property in March. Ocean State Job Lot, which moved to the center in October, has a 10-year lease.

The owners — 20 Thames Street LLC and 122 PTIP LLC in the court records — are developers Jonathan Cohen and Joseph Soley, who bought the 203,637-square-foot shopping mall for $21 million.

Ocean State Job Lot leases space that had been vacant since 2005, when Shaw's supermarket moved to new space at the other end of the building. Ocean State occupies 36,000 square feet of the space, with another 15,000 square feet subleased to Planet Fitness.

Ocean State officials said in a news release Thursday that renovation costs for the space were around $1.5 million.

The court ruled that a document used in the eviction — an estoppel certificate — was not factually correct, and the fact Ocean State responded in 16, rather than the 10 days the owner required, wasn't grounds for eviction.

"As a result, the Ocean State Job Lot lease remains in effect and the store will continue as a tenant at the Falmouth Shopping Center at least through 2028, with tenant options to extend the lease term until 2043," said the news release.

Falmouth Center owners could not be reached for comment.

"We feel vindicated by the court's recent decision and are thrilled to continue operating our store in Falmouth," said Marc Perlman, CEO of Ocean State, in a news release. "Throughout 40 years of business, across eight states dealing with dozens and dozens of landlords, we've never encountered a situation quite like this."

Perlman said the store's employees "can now feel a sense of relief." The store employs about 45 full and part-time workers.

"We pride ourselves on being a responsible tenant," Perlman said. He said the store and fitness center brought new life to "an underperforming shopping center."

Plans for redevelopment

Falmouth Center developers previously have said that, aside from the Ocean State eviction, tenants in the shopping center wouldn't be affected by its plan to redevelop the land behind and adjacent to it. Other major tenants include Shaw's supermarket, Sullivan Tire and a Goodwill store and donation center.

In June they unveiled a redevelopment plan for the center that would cover 40 acres and have 400,000 square feet of retail, office, hotel and residential space.

Included is 11 acres owned by the state between the center and the ramp to the Maine Turnpike connector. The state has been looking for two years for a developer to take the land in a swap that would require the developer to move the ramp to the Maine Turnpike connector and redo the Bucknam Road intersection. That swap is part of the plan.

The Falmouth Center plans hit a snag last month when residents balked at a soccer complex that developer Cohen has said is at the heart of the proposal. There were also concerns about traffic and the environmental impact on Mill Creek and its watershed, which runs behind the land.

The town has asked developers to come up with a master plan before the project can move forward.

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