Mayor Ashton Hayward hired attorney Nix Daniel to send a notification of default to Ray Russenberger, whose company, Seville Harbour, Inc., has the master lease for the marina on Pitt Slip, the inlet between Bartram Park and the Port of Pensacola. (Read N. Daniel to Seville Harbour-Merrill Land)
Merrill Land, Inc., the real estate development company owned by the Merrill brothers—Collier, Will and Burney, were included in the notice because they own the building on one of the parcels.
The lease has a clause that states if the lessee, Seville Harbour, or any its subsidiaries operate a business on the property then Seville Harbour must pay five percent of that business’s gross sales, if that percentage exceeds the ground lease payment to the city.
The mayor’s position is that Russenberger assigned part of his master lease when he sold the building to the Merrill Land. He also claims that The Fish House and Atlas Oyster House should pay retroactively to April 2000 five percent of their gross sales to the city, plus interest—because he believes the Great Southern Restaurant Group, the owner of the restaurants, is somehow a subsidiary of Merrill Land, LLC.
Bruce Partington of Clark, Partington, Hart, Larry, Bond & Stackhouse has been hired by Russenberger and Merrill to represent them in this dispute with the city of Pensacola.
In his letter that was released to the media yesterday afternoon, he rejects the default notice and shoots holes in the city’s positions on the lease. Read Rejection.
The Independent News’ cover story for this week–“How NOT to do business: City vs. The Fish House”– will be available online this afternoon. If you would like to receive a copy via email, subscribe to our newsletter.
In the interest of the full disclosure, Collier Merrill owns a five-percent interest in the Independent News. Ray Russenberger owns 2.5 percent. By our shareholders’ agreement, both are prohibited from having any say in the editorial content of the Independent News or my personal blog. I have sole control for the content of both. And, in case you’re curious, I own 90 percent of the paper and Chuck Emling has the remaining 2.5 percent.