A struggling local mall is in deepening legal hot water as both Henrico County and a former tenant have filed new lawsuits against it in recent weeks.
Virginia Center Commons is facing four active lawsuits filed in Henrico Circuit Court: three from Henrico County and one from Alpozio’s Grill & Lounge, a restaurant that was formerly at the mall.
Henrico and Alpozio’s are suing Virginia Center Common Realty Holding LLC, an entity tied to Kohan Real Estate Investment Group, which bought the 26-year-old mall at 10101 Brook Road for $9 million in 2017.
Alpozio’s, which opened in September 2015, claims the dispute started in January 2017 when a snowstorm led to a pipe bursting and flooding the restaurant. While the restaurant was closed for repairs in March 2017, Alpozio’s claims that mall management booked a fashion show to take place in the restaurant without Williams knowing.
The lawsuit, filed May 28, alleges that Kohan violated the lease agreement by terminating the lease and changing the locks on the doors without proper notice.
Alpozio’s is seeking $2.9 million in damages plus court costs and attorney’s fees. The restaurant is represented by Alexander Taylor of Alex Taylor Law PLC. He declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Henrico County has filed three petitions for injunctive relief against Kohan. Henrico is claiming that the mall is violating the county’s fire code, building code and zoning ordinances.
The county filed the first of the three injunctions in January, claiming that Kohan has “failed to inspect, test, and maintain the fire protection system in the mall.”
In April, Henrico filed a petition claiming the mall’s parking lot has “deteriorated significantly and no longer meets the requirements of the Plan of Development.”
The third petition was filed June 17. Henrico claims the mall’s rooftop air handling units are not in accordance with the county’s building code, citing a third-party inspection that allegedly showed the units were still defective as of last fall.
The county claims it has successfully prosecuted a criminal summons against Kohan for noncompliance on each of the three petitions, and that despite a conviction given for each, the mall has remained in violation.
In a phone interview last week, assistant county attorney Andrew Newby said Henrico is hoping to get the mall into compliance through the petitions.
“There are a lot of good businesses out there and obviously it’s a great location, so I think it’d be wonderful for the owner to invest in the property, and at least to bring it into compliance with the bare minimum that the building code, fire code and zoning ordinance require,” Newby said.
“These are just basic maintenance issues that every property owner’s required to abide by.”
Kohan did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.
Once popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, the 915,000-square-foot mall has seen its occupancy rate fall off over the years. A recent count by BizSense tallied over 50 vacancies to roughly 30 tenants.
One of the mall’s anchor tenant spaces also is on the market, as the American Family Fitness space at the western end of the mall recently was listed for sale with brokerage Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP for an undisclosed amount. The 86,000-square-foot space is part of the larger mall owned by Kohan.
The mall’s former Macy’s building changed hands last year for $1.3 million.