Business Pensacola Politics

And poof, Mayor Hayward rescinds his notification of default against The Fish House

December 10, 2013

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Mayor Ashton Hayward has rescinded his notice that The Fish House and Atlas Oyster House owed the city five percent of their gross sales retroactively to April 2000.

The mayor claimed in a letter that he had his attorney Nix Daniel sent on Nov. 15 to Seville Harbor (Ray Russenberger) and Merrill Land, LLC (Collier Merrill and his brothers) that the two companies were in default on the Pitt Slip lease.

Although the lessee is Seville Harbour and it has paid the rents on the parcels since 1995, Hayward alleged that Merrill Land, who owns the building on the property, had been partially assigned the marina lease. We have asked the city, through a public record request, for the document where the city gave consent to such a partial assignment. We have not received it yet.

The mayor also asserted that the city was entitled to the gross sales because he believed that the two restaurants, actually owned by Great Southern Restaurant Group, were subsidiaries of Merrill Land (Read “How Not To Do Business“).

Today’s letter (Letter Agreement) says that the city will meet with Seville Harbour and Merrill Land to “resolve or analyze the issues at hand.” Attorney Nix Daniel writes, on behalf of the mayor, “It is our mutual hope that information can be exchanged and these issues resolved before the end of the year.”

The letter, signed by Daniel and attorney Bruce Partington who represents Seville Harbour and Merrill Land, doesn’t say what those issues are.

Collier Merrill told the IN this afternoon, “We’re back where we were on Nov. 14 (before the letter was sent)–except we are still in damage control, trying to repair what all this has done to a business we’ve built over the past 13 years.”

He said, “We have always been willing to meet on the issues we brought up four years ago. Before the notice, the last correspondence we had from the city was a letter from Messer (city attorney) in September 2011, to which we responded promptly.”

Merrill said that he was happy to get the notice of default behind him. “We are very grateful for the support that we received from the community over the past 20 days.”

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