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Snappy Tomato pays up

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Snappy Tomato Pizza has paid its $18,500 buyout settlement to the city, ending its lease obligation to The Commons.

Evicted Jan. 17 by the Columbus Redevelopment Commission, the restaurant had orally agreed to pay the settlement in 10 to 15 days.

The end of 15 business days was Friday, when the payment was made. It was delivered to redevelopment commission attorney Stan Gamso about 4 p.m., Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown said.

The $18,500 represents about two-thirds of what the restaurant owed the city — $27,237.52 in monthly lease payments, utilities and late payment fees for 2013.

Snappy Tomato had not paid its Commons rent for all of 2013 or for January of this year.

The redevelopment commission agreed Jan. 17 to accept the settlement offer rather than go to court to attempt to recoup the entire amount.

By choosing the settlement, the city accepted the monetary loss but obtained immediate legal control of the property and began appraisals to start the search for a new tenant.

In addition to the loss of some of the lease revenue, the city also had spent $61,715.24 in build-out costs before Snappy Tomato’s 2011 opening.

On Tuesday, the city’s Board of Works learned that a recommendation about filling the former Snappy Tomato location in The Commons should be completed this month. The city is finalizing appraisals and determining parking capacity, said Heather Pope, the city’s redevelopment director.

The restaurant’s failure to pay its lease for an entire year led Brown to demote Parks and Recreation Director Ben Wagner to marketing coordinator Dec. 30, a move that has caused an ongoing rift between the city administration and the city council.

In the meantime, the city administration set up new procedures for collecting The Commons lease payments, including requiring the parks department to provide detailed financial reports to the city administration and park board.

The first of those reports was given Thursday by Jamie Brinegar, the parks department’s director of business services. The report included Commons retail space leases revenue for December 2013 and January 2014, which showed the two tenants there, Subway and Puccini’s, are current in rent and utilities.

Construction work for a third tenant, Jordy McTaggart’s, an Irish- and British-themed eatery, was expected to begin this spring after design plans were finalized.

The deal requires Jordy McTaggart’s owners to pay rent of $5,052 per month. That’s less than the $6,888-per-month rent that was being paid by previous tenants, Scotty’s Burger Joint and Detour American Grille and Bar. But those deals included nearly $400,000 in city aid to outfit the restaurant space. The restaurant owners are paying for their own construction improvements and equipment for the space.

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