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October 14, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Raymour & Flanigan wants Danone headquarters construction to stop

Thanksgiving to Christmas is the “most crucial holiday furniture selling season,” says Raymour & Flanigan Furniture, but it also says sales at its White Plains store are being hindered by construction of a new headquarters for Danone Foods Inc.

Workers put up a sign on Nov. 27 indicating that Whole Foods is open during construction at The Source in White Plains. The sign joins one placed by Raymour & Flanigan Furniture. Photo by Bob Rozycki

Scaffolding, restricted parking and barricades are blocking customers from using the store and violate the retailer’s lease, the company states in a lawsuit filed in Westchester Supreme Court.

The furniture chain is asking a judge for a restraining order to shut down the construction project and make the landlord return The Source shopping center to its previous condition. It is asking for at least $200,000 in damages for alleged trespass and lease violations.

A hearing is scheduled for Friday morning before Justice Alan D. Scheinkman.

Danone spokesman Michael Neuwirth said the company cannot comment because the matter is under litigation. An attorney for the landlord did not respond to a request for comment.

The Source at 100 Bloomingdale Road is a four-story shopping center and parking garage owned by Bloomingdale Road Investors LLC, a unit of UBS Realty Investors LLC of  Hartford, Connecticut. It also has a Whole Foods, a Dick’s Sporting Goods and a Cheesecake Factory.

Raymours Furniture Co., which does business as Raymour & Flanigan, pays more than $1 million a year to lease 58,332 square feet on the third floor. The family-owned company, based in Liverpool, New York, describes itself as the largest furniture retailer in the Northeast.

The view of construction at The Source along Bloomingdale Road. Photo by Bob Rozycki

Danone is the parent company for brands such as Dannon yogurt and Evian water. It will occupy 80,000 square feet on the first and fourth floors when it moves its headquarters and 400 employees from Greenburgh next year. It expects to add 150 jobs within five years.

Raymours claims that the landlord must notify the company within a reasonable time before doing maintenance or repairs in common areas of the shopping center. The lease does not allow work to be done from October through December, except in case of an emergency.

The landlord may not change the parking facility, Raymours said, add levels or floors or use the first three floors for non-retail purposes.

Protective netting obscures the store sign at the Bloomingdale Road entrance. Photo by Bob Rozycki

Raymours decided that offices on the first floor would not interfere with customers, and on May 18 it consented to the arrangement for a rent reduction of $56,000 a year.

But the landlord, Raymours claims, “intentionally concealed” other plans for modifying the shopping center.

On Oct. 10, scaffolding was erected in front of Raymours’ storefront in its designated parking area. Scaffolding and netting also cover the exterior façade and sidewalk.

A 15,124-square-foot enclosure is being built on fourth-floor parking spaces, the lawsuit states, and will block access to a stairway. More than 300 parking spaces will be re-striped, narrowing them to 8.6 feet wide from 9 feet. Danone has been granted rights to 71 “spillover” parking spaces on the furniture store level, and Raymours said it has been told that hundreds of Danone employees will park in spaces that had been reserved for retail customers.

Construction and changes to the building are “causing significant disruption,” the lawsuit states, and will cause “untold and incalculable lost revenue and business.”

Raymours said it has made several attempts to resolve the dispute but the landlord is unwilling to stop work.

The city of White Plains has weighed in, with a building official notifying the court that construction has advanced to the point that scaffolding and a sidewalk shed must stay in place to protect pedestrians and vehicular traffic.