The City of Seattle recently implemented a new progressive energy efficiency policy that requires certain commercial buildings in Seattle to get a tune-up assessment every five years. The program encourages commercial buildings to run more efficiently by reducing energy and water costs, which is good for the environment and good for lowering building operating costs. We expect that most commercial landlords will try to pass through the initial cost of obtaining a building assessment to commercial tenants via common area maintenance (CAM) charges. The upside is that, in the long-term, energy and water costs are expected to decrease as the systems become more efficient.
Before commercial landlords decide to pass through any tune-up program costs to tenants, they should first analyze their leases to confirm whether they are allowed to do so. Conversely, commercial tenants should also review their leases to understand their rights, including potential savings that could be passed through.
Two recent court decisions confirm that retail tenants cannot ignore continuous operation covenants as both ruled the retailers’ stores must remain open for business.
Starbucks Blocked from Closing Teavana Stores
In an epic battle between mega-shopping center owner Simon Property Group and seemingly ubiquitous retail tenant Starbucks, Simon has won a crucial battle. Last summer, Starbucks announced publicly that it was closing hundreds of its Teavana stores, most of which are located in shopping malls around the country. Simon, reportedly the largest shopping center operator in the United States, responded by filing suit against Starbucks in Indiana to block the closure of Teavana stores located in Simon malls. With the battle lines drawn, an Indiana judge ruled in favor of Simon and issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting Starbucks from closing 77 of its stores in Simon malls.
We regularly update clients about changes in real estate law and on industry trends. This includes briefing clients on legislative proposals in the federal tax, housing and other legal areas affecting their businesses. Staying current enables you to anticipate and prevent legal problems as well as capitalize on new developments.