Once again, the Town of Haymarket is in lease negotiations with the Haymarket Grocery.
“We directed our attorney to enter into negotiations with the Lees … concerning the lease of our building,” Haymarket Mayor David P. Taylor said in a phone interview last week.
Rye Sung Lee and his wife Jung Kyu Lee managed the Haymarket Grocery business in its previous location at 15000 Washington St. When that building was condemned in January, they were also purchasing the business from owner John K. Jinn, who originally leased the building from the town.
In June, Haymarket police barricaded the building with most of the Lees’ stock still on the shelves.
Manassas attorney Timothy Purnell said that about a month ago, the town asked about the possibility of leasing the space to someone else, because neither the Lees nor Jinn responded to a May offer of new space. The offered space was in the east end of the town hall building, on the ground floor. So Purnell, who is representing the town in litigation between Haymarket and Jinn, contacted him and the Lees again.
A May 14 letter Purnell drafted offered Jinn 2,200 square feet in the town hall building, as well as $25,000 to move from the condemned building to the new space across the parking lot. The lease would cover the remaining seven years of Jinn’s original lease, and would be the same price, though the offered space is a better facility and has a higher market value, Purnell said.
“It basically went completely unnoticed,” Purnell said.
The offered space may have been smaller: the Grocery’s original building was approximately 4,000 square feet, according to Jinn.
Jinn sued the town for $5 million in July, claiming the town’s intent had been to collect rent from him until Haymarket could find a purchaser for the entire town center property, including the Haymarket Grocery building. Jinn claimed the condemnation was a pretext to terminate the lease.
Though Jinn wasn’t interested, the Lees were.
“The Lees said we’d like it if we qualify for the special rate,” Purnell said.
These are the negotiations that the town is currently undertaking.
The Lees’ attorney, Robert J. Beagan, did not return a call seeking comment by press time. As of Monday afternoon, Haymarket Mayor David P. Taylor had not heard from the Lees or Beagan.