Nicholas Malfitano Nov. 11, 2015, 2:16pm


PHILADELPHIA – A property sale and proposed demolition and redevelopment of the property in Center City related to a nine-decade billboard lease is the center of a dispute between a pair of local companies.

Representing defendant Interbroad, attorney Catherine Wigglesworth filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings on July 15, seeking a counter-claim for declaratory judgment and a directive that BL Partners Group would not be able to demolish and redevelop the property, nor terminate the existing billboard lease.

Wigglesworth subsequently filed a motion to stay proceedings on July 21, pending resolution of the aforementioned motion for judgment on the pleadings.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Ramy I. Djerassi denied these motions Monday.

On Aug. 5, on behalf of plaintiff BL Partners, Michael Dubin filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, stating it had the uncontested right to demolish and redevelop the property as it saw fit, and possessed the right to terminate the long-standing billboard lease in place for the rooftop at the corner of South Broad and Locust Streets per the terms of purchase.

Djerassi approved this motion on Monday.

That purchase occurred Aug. 27, 2014, as BL Partners spent a total of $20 million to obtain the properties at 219-225 South Broad Street (the “Garage Property”), 227-229 South Broad Street (the “Middle Property”) and 231 South Broad Street (the “Corner Property”) from the Samuel Rappaport Limited Partnership and the Samuel Rappaport Estate.

Regarding the Corner Property, a lease agreement was in place between previous owner, the Rappaport Estate, and Interbroad, for the latter to utilize the property’s rooftop space for the placement of a billboard – for the cost of $1.

The 94-year lease agreement took effect on Jan. 1, 2000, and would expire on April 1, 2094.

In coordination with the sale of the property, BL Partners were to assume control of that billboard and accompanying rooftop space – communicated by Wil Rappaport of the Rappaport Estate to Drew Katz, Interbroad’s CEO.

According to Section VIII of the 2014 sale agreement, if BL Partners decided to demolish the existing structures and redevelop the property, it may terminate that same billboard lease agreement – given it provides Interbroad with 60 days’ notice and pays it 10 times the advertising income received from the billboard for the prior calendar year.

In fact, BL Partners does intend to demolish the current structures standing from 219-231 South Broad Street and redevelop the property, and it made its intentions known to Interbroad through an April 7 letter.

In a response dated May 8, Interbroad disagreed with BL Partners’ interpretation of the agreement and claimed it possessed the right to “quiet enjoyment” of the rooftop space and billboard agreement until the conclusion of the lease in 2094. Interbroad also did not provide BL Partners with the necessary revenue information for the billboard space for the prior year, in order for BL Partners to make their mandated payment.

BL Partners maintains it can demolish the current structures on the property and that the billboard space was properly terminated on April 7, that it is entitled to delay damages and other relief, and that Interbroad is precluded from interfering with the demolition or redevelopment of the property.

BL Partners further believes Interbroad’s actions constitute a breach of contract and BL Partners has suffered damages from “carrying costs, increased costs of development and loss of rental income from tenants.”

The plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest, costs and other relief in this case.

The plaintiff is represented by Dubin of Semanoff Ormsby Greenberg & Torchia, in Huntingdon Valley.

The defendant is represented by Lynne Kolodinsky, Sabrina L. Reliford, Robert C. Heim and Wigglesworth of Dechert, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 150502432

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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