April 28, 2005

No friendly smiles in any aisles

This story won't likely do much towards improving the public image of lawyers.

One property owner is holding hostage the $15 million project to build a new Hy-Vee grocery, city officials contend.

Ald. Evie White, 5th Ward, and Mayor Mark Schwiebert singled out Rock Island attorney Joel Deutsch as responsible for delaying construction on a 61,500-square-foot store behind the existing Hy-Vee on 18th Avenue.

Des Moines-based Hy-Vee Inc. expected to start on the expansion last fall. It acquired several neighboring properties to make room for the larger store. Those were to be torn down, so the new store could be built while the other remained open.

C.T. Investments sued Embassy Corp. last June, saying Embassy breached an option agreement between the two, according to Rock Island County court records. Mr. Deutsch is Embassy's president.

The agreement, signed Oct. 22, 2003, gave C.T. Investments the "exclusive option" in the next four months to buy a 12-unit apartment building immediately south of Hy-Vee, at 1836 29½ St., for $575,000.

The agreement allowed the real estate company to extend the option for another three months, which it did in February 2004. An agent hand-delivered a letter to Mr. Deutsch at his downtown Rock Island law office May 14, 2004, saying C.T. Investments exercised its option to buy the property.

Days later, Mr. Deutsch informed the company's president, Chris Thomason, the option agreement expired through a technicality. C.T. Investments didn't use certified return receipt mail as the agreement specified, Mr. Deutsch said.

The case was argued in early March and awaits a decision from Circuit Judge Joseph Beatty. C.T. Investments asked the court to force Embassy to sell the property to it at the previously agreed price of $575,000.

"He's holding the entire city hostage," Ald. White said of Mr. Deutsch during Monday's city council meeting. "I'm livid with this man."

She admitted she doesn't know Mr. Deutsch personally, but said if she encountered him, "I'd probably kick him in the shins."

Mayor Schwiebert in his remarks accused Mr. Deutsch of trying to get more money for the property.


At 4/28/2005 2:16 PM, Blogger Dissenter said...

HEY! How is this a negative reflection on lawyers? If this guy were a carpet installer, would we be saying, "Damn carpet installers!!" If he were a movie theater employee in charge of the pocorn machine, would we be saying, "Damn movie theater employees in charge of the popcorn machine!" I think not.


At 4/28/2005 6:25 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Yeah, but would a carpet layer hold up a huge project because someone hand delivered a document instead of sending it by registered mail or whatever it was that was called for in the fine print?


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