News Pensacola

City Manager memo shows City knew that there was no assignment of Pitt Slip lease to The Fish House

January 3, 2014

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It took some digging through the City of Pensacola archives on Fortis but we found a memorandum by City Manager Tom Bonfield to the city council, dated Dec. 15, 2000, that informs the council that Seville Harbour (Ray Russenberger) and Merrill Land Company had agreed to sublease a portion of property on which Seville Harbour building was located.

Bonfield makes it clear that no full or partial assignment was executed by the parties or the city. Read Bonfield Pitt Slip update memo.

In April 2000, Merrill Land Company purchased the Seville Harbour building, in which The Fish House rented space. The city council had approved prior to the sale that Seville Harbour could assign its Pitt Slip lease to Merrill Land. However, the parties chose to sublease the ground lease instead. This memo confirms that the city was aware of the sublease and that no assignment had been made.

In November 2013, Mayor Ashton Hayward claimed, in a letter by his attorney Nix Daniel to the Seville Harbour and Merrill Land, that there had been a partial assignment of the Pitt Slip. He demanded that The Fish House, which is owned by a separate corporation, Great Southern Restaurant Group, pay the city 5 percent of its gross sales retroactively to April 2000. The mayor said that he would evict the restaurant if the payment was not made by February 2014. For more, read How Not To Do Business.

This latest document appears to shoot an even bigger hole in the mayor’s case against The Fish House.

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Note: I own 90 percent of the Independent News and all of this blog. The remaining 10 percent is owned by J. Collier Merrill, Ray Russenberger and Charles Emling, III, none of which own more than five percent of the stock. I have complete control over the editorial and operations of the newspaper and its websites.

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