ST. ANN — It has been seven months since St. The small strip mall along Charles Rock Road is in disrepair. St. The parking lot of the Shoppes at Ann was littered with wooden pallets, used toilets and other debris. For weeks, chain-link fences separated the parking lot from the shopping.
The problem started with a relatively simple roof repair. But the construction has now stretched so far that almost all businesses here have been affected. Some say it’s less airy. Some of them packed up and left. Others were simply closed.
“It’s terrible,” said Kim McNeal, owner of Studio Kouture, which has been closed since July. “I’m just trying to survive. It’s just crazy.”
The project is the result of a three-year legal dispute between plaza owners Christopher Nasrallah and Michael Rizzo. Nasrullah sued Rizzo, saying Rizzo would not share financial records as required by the partnership. Rizzo said in court documents that Nasrullah had full access to all accounting information and financial records.
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However, a later court-appointed receiver is responsible for the property. Last summer, storms hit the roof during renovations, causing leaks that damaged some businesses. Now at least five of them – two tax firms, a nail salon, a children’s gym and McNeal’s beauty salon – are being renovated.
McNeal is considering hiring a lawyer to help.
“It’s really just a mess,” McNeal said. “We have to rebuild our business and they have to accommodate us.”
Nasrullah called the process “very disappointing”. Rizzo said he did not send the real estate agent Nasrullah his share of the commission and would not allow him to access bank statements for the partnership. Nasrullah alleges that the court-appointed receiver, Mark Zwibleman, delayed repairs and drove up costs.
“The tenants called me and said that there was nothing but bad, bad encounters with the buyer,” Nasrullah said in an interview.
Zvibleman, managing director of SVN Infinity Commercial Group, said that the reopening of businesses was resolved as soon as possible.
“Almost everyone renewed their lease,” Zvibleman said, “Everyone was happy.”
Rizzo did not respond to requests for comment.
Not all business owners say they are affected. But many said it was a disaster.
St. In Ann, St. The stores, located at Charles Rock and Ashby roads, have almost a dozen tenants, including a wellness center, event space, Boost Mobile, a smoke shop, a Chinese restaurant and double Bubble Coin Laundromat. Nasrullah and Rizzo.
But since Zvibleman’s appointment, four tenants have left.
“All gone,” Lynetta Wings, owner of La Wings Home Health Care II. “Nobody thinks it’s obvious. It seems that he has been condemned.”
The work of Wings has been in St. Petersburg for four years. It works fine at the Shoppes at Ann, but he said Zvibleman and his team are terrible.
Over the summer, its ceiling collapsed, the HVAC unit went out, and a leak caused interior damage. Zvibleman didn’t call her back, and she said she had to call the city inspector to force the buyer to fix the damage.
The buyer also changed the locks on the event space business, then evicted it last fall despite being in compliance with the rent.
“Dealing with them is excruciating,” Wings said. “It’s huge. Tears come to my eyes.”
Indoor children’s playground We Rock the Spectrum left the square last fall, and Liberty Tax moved to another office space less than a mile away. H&R Block has moved a few doors down and Queen Nails is out of business pending renovations.
Tai Nguyen, owner of Queen Nails, said he would have moved his business entirely if he had known it would take so long. His wife had to find a new job to put food on the table; Nguyen was at his shop every day, helping construction workers speed up the process.
“He told me two more weeks, three more weeks. “If they had told me six months, I probably wouldn’t have stayed here,” he said. “I can’t live without work for six months.”
No one from the roofing company or reception did anything for two weeks after the rain ruined the interior of the hall. Nguyen estimated he lost up to $50,000 in equipment and supplies to water damage and subsequent mold. And he estimates $120,000 in lost revenue.
Queen Nails is set to reopen soon, but Nguyen is already worried about lost business.
“I lost all my customers,” Nguyen said. “Hopefully they’ll be back when I reopen.”