116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Visitors hoping to stop by either of two restaurants in the Roosevelt building Thursday would have been greeted with locked gates, tables in dark dining rooms and posted eviction notices.
That same morning, the owner of the Roosevelt in downtown Cedar Rapids, joined by the Linn County Sheriff's Office, began removing property from two former restaurants there after the former occupants were ordered to leave.
Sherman Associates, the Minneapolis company that owns the Roosevelt, at the corner of First Avenue NE and Second Street NE, started taking inventory and removing property from spaces previously occupied by Jerseys Downtown and Harold's Chicken.
Jerseys shut its doors last month, posting on Facebook the closure was 'to ensure the safety of our employees and customers.”
'We are actively working to bring a swift resolution of the situation that has prompted this closure and hope to reopen soon,” the Feb. 18 post reads.
Sherman Associates claims in court records, though, that Jerseys did not pay its rent and sublet part of its space to Harold's without consent. The building owner also claims Jerseys kept Harold's rent for itself and failed to maintain a crime-free environment.
Under its lease with Sherman, Jerseys was supposed to pay between $91,000 and $107,000 a year for 10 years to occupy the downtown space. Jerseys also had to operate as a restaurant at least seven days a week.
In addition to violating its lease terms, Sherman claims in the court filing, Jerseys owes Sherman $69,337.64 in unpaid rent, late fees and interest. The building owner is seeking more than $466,000 to cover the rent for the remainder of its 10-year lease term, according to filings.
Sherman also had filed claims against Harold's, but later dismissed them.
Management for the downtown restaurants could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Valerie Doleman, a Sherman Associates spokeswoman, said she could not comment on the dispute with Jerseys. The Roosevelt space will be for lease, she said, once current property is removed.
Harold's Chicken opened in September 2016, while Jersey's downtown opened in 2012 and maintains a second location on C Avenue SW.
The city deemed both Harold's and Jersey's as nuisance properties in February after enough disturbances that resulted in police calls had occurred.
If a property is deemed as a 'nuisance” by the city and the owner or tenant fails to stop the cause, future nuisance calls can result in the properties being charged $94 an hour, per officer, said Safe-CR program manager Amanda Grieder. Safe-CR is a city program.
The city does not classify calls such as for shootings, in which properties or tenants are victims, as 'nuisance calls,” Grieder said.
Call logs show the Cedar Rapids Police Department dedicated more than 140 hours responding to calls for service at both Harold's and Jersey's between December 2016 and Feb. 20, 2017. Not all calls were logged as nuisance or disturbance issues, as police officers often conduct checks on bars or restaurants, noted Greg Buelow, the public safety spokesman for Cedar Rapids.
Many of the calls do involve nuisance violations, however, including on Feb. 9 when employees from both restaurants argued over the use of a shared kitchen. Another call, just seven days later, involved an employee dispute over a locked door.
'There were disorderly conduct issues between the two businesses,” Grieder said. 'They were all pretty minor infractions, but they do add up.”
Grieder said none of the nuisance calls resulted in personal injury or property damage.
Gazette reporter Lee Hermiston contributed to this story.
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