Leslie MacDougall seems like she’s been cold-cocked for business condominiums.
After virtually 20 years in the identical location, the proprietor of Cambridge Highland Dance and Co., will sashay out the door in November after, she says, her landlord, the Woodhouse Group, refused to resume her lease on the Shearson Enterprise Centre with the intent of promoting every unit.
An added punch to the intestine — she would be the first to go.
Since she came upon in April, by likelihood, the models at 180 Shearson Cres. had been going to be provided up on the market — a neighbouring tenant overheard staff point out it once they got here in to measure their unit — MacDougall has been combating to remain within the constructing, a location to which she and her 40 to 45 dance college students have a 17-year emotional bond.
The information was formally damaged to her in Could with a letter from Woodhouse. She was additionally given the possibility to purchase the unit first, at “a reduced market value” of $501,480. The unit is at the moment listed at $557,200.
Tears, nonetheless, turned combined with anger in a telephone name to Woodhouse.
“I stated, ‘You understand that you simply’re squashing small enterprise.’ Many of the tenants within the 10 models have been there for an prolonged time frame. Some are authentic inside the constructing, which is 32 years outdated. (They) mainly simply stated robust, that’s the best way it’s and that’s what we’ve determined.”
Sebastian Skuza, Woodhouse actual property supervisor, stated in an e mail to the Occasions, the choice to promote the models as a substitute of hire them out was based mostly on a scarcity of provide of “owner-occupied house for small companies within the area.”
“We wished to offer the chance for small companies to personal their house moderately than pay rents to their landlord,” he stated. “We’ve got honoured, and proceed to honour all lease phrases and renewal rights for all tenants.”
The information shocked MacDougall, who thought she had an excellent working relationship with Woodhouse, paying her hire on time and persevering with correct repairs exterior of the unit.
The truth is, they’d requested her in spring 2021 when her lease was up if she’d prefer to renew for 3 years. She requested one as a substitute, as she had simply mainly misplaced a 12 months of income from the COVID-19 pandemic — although she nonetheless paid hire, warmth and hydro — and there was no saying if there can be extra shutdowns for dance studios.
In an e mail change between MacDougall and Skuza, a one-year renewal was proposed at $7.75 per sq. foot. The unit is 1,007 sq. toes. MacDougall accepted.
Skuza added the renewal fee, decrease than different models, would “hopefully give time for the pandemic to wind down and offer you a greater sense of what to anticipate earlier than committing to one thing long run.”
Skuza confirmed the one-year renewal, however said MacDougall did not notify her intent to increase the lease by a January 2022 deadline, which terminated her lease on the finish of the one-year extension in June 2022.
When requested in regards to the deadline, MacDougall was shocked. “That’s the primary that I heard about this January factor. I used to be purported to notify them? Properly, let me know. I’d have been blissful to,” she stated. “I do know that didn’t occur. I’d like to see an e mail about that. I’d by no means have stated no. Why would I? I wouldn’t be sitting right here doing this and being upset if I had identified.”
What makes MacDougall much more infuriated is she claims two different enterprise homeowners within the constructing simply prolonged their leases, even after the discuss of promoting the models. She’s questioning why when she was so upset after getting the information about promoting models in Could they didn’t supply her a brand new lease, or no less than inform her she missed a deadline.
“As a result of it’s a lie,” she alleges.
With little time to vacate the unit, MacDougall did handle to barter a month-to-month lease in June, with Woodhouse holding a 90-day discover to vacate at any time, The eviction letter got here in August when she stepped off a aircraft in Scotland together with her dance troupe, a visit they extensively fundraised for.
Since then, she’s been trying to find a brand new house, whereas mourning the outdated one by slowly packing up. The primary place she discovered was about 200 sq. toes smaller than her present unit, which suggests renting a storage unit for her stock.
Different organizations and companies have additionally reached out with house, however she has to undergo prices and placement. One other dance membership proprietor on the transfer may have room for her if the proprietor purchases house. “I’m nonetheless shaking my head,” she stated.
“Why would I need months of stress, nervousness and sleepless nights? They need me out as a result of I do know that the lease that I’m paying, they need to get more cash for the unit to lease it out to any person else for more cash or to promote it. I believe it’s heartless.”
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Leslie MacDougall contacted the Occasions about what she considers a grasping transfer by a property proprietor to squash small enterprise homeowners whereas claiming to assist them.