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Lease for Scotty’s site falls under board scrutiny

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A proposal to reopen the former Scotty’s Burger Joint space in The Commons as a Detour American Grille is far from a guaranteed approval, Mayor Kristen Brown said Monday.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission is scheduled to hear a proposal to revamp the restaurant during a special meeting Wednesday. The lease-holder of the space, MSCB Group, terminated its contract with Scotty’s parent company and plans to bring a Detour American Grille to Columbus. Mert Shipman and Mark E. Maddox co-own MSCB Group.

Brown said commission members have not had the opportunity to review materials on the change. Brown, as the commission’s president, said the normal protocol is to submit materials for approval two business days in advance. She said nothing was submitted by that deadline Thursday, nor had anything arrived Monday morning, a city holiday.

“We haven’t gotten anything from them yet,” Brown said. “It is unclear, at this point, if we are dealing with a new company or just a new concept. ...

If you go

WHAT: Columbus Redevelopment Commission special board meeting

WHEN: Noon Wednesday

WHERE: City Council chambers at City Hall, 123 Washington St., Columbus

OTHER AGENDA ITEM: Election of officers

“This all came about while people were on vacation. We have holidays and people have been ill,” she added. “We have actually been trying to understand what our options are, but it is hard when we don’t know the kind of structure Mert Shipman is proposing.”

Brown said she does not want to delay the decision, but commission members want a reasonable amount of time to review materials that are submitted and to understand what they are being asked to approve.

Further complicating the decision, Brown said she believes the city might be required to open the process to competitive bidders. The existing lease specifically calls for a Scotty’s restaurant in the space, and the MSCB decision to switch restaurants could invalidate the lease, or any corporate changes in MSCB could mean the city is negotiating with a new entity, Brown said.

“It is not entirely clear to me right now whether we are legally obligated to let this out again, get two appraisals, go through a competitive-bid process,” Brown said. “We can take the best bidder and put some parameters around the type of the business we want to put in there. It can’t be so limiting that only one business can qualify.

“I think it is safe to say that it is within the rights of the Redevelopment Commission to say, ‘We want to look at alternate uses for the space.’”

Brown also has asked the commission attorney to look into what property, if any, is owned by the MSCB Group and what is owned by the city. The city, through Columbus Downtown Inc., paid MSCB Group to outfit the space in The Commons.

Brown wants to know whether the city owns everything in the space or only the permanent fixtures.

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