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Libbie Mill developer sues former Southern Season execs

Posted at 10:44 AM, Jun 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-06 10:44:29-04

HENRICO, Va. — When Southern Season abruptly shut down last year as one of the anchor tenants of the massive mixed-use development Libbie Mill, the retailer’s closing left more than an empty building in its wake, according to a lawsuit filed in Richmond federal court this month.

An entity tied to Richmond-based Gumenick Properties, the developer of Libbie Mill, is suing former Southern Season CEO W. Clay Hamner and CFO Brian Fauver for fraud and more than $350,000 in damages over an agreement tied to the store’s lease in its short-lived local location.

The Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based gourmet market opened a 53,000-square-foot store in Libbie Mill at 2250 Staples Mill Road in July 2014 – its first in Virginia.

It closed the location less than two years later, in April 2016, citing weak sales and too large a space. Gumenick has yet to announce a new tenant for the vacant box, while the rest of Libbie Mill has continued to take shape around it.

The lawsuit, initially filed in Henrico County Circuit Court but moved to Richmond federal court last week, claims Southern Season struggled out of the gate in Richmond.

It alleges the Libbie Mill store failed to make its first three rent payments on time. After the retailer asked for a rent reduction shortly after opening, Gumenick agreed to help prop it up by floating an equity investment of $25,000 per month for 12 months, up to $300,000.

Continue reading on for more details about the suit.