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Sherwood Plaza business owners face uncertainty about shopping center’s future

POSTED: April 6, 2017 7:28 p.m.

Loco's Grill & Pub owner Hudson Wilson has been operating his restaurant and bar for 20 years at Sherwood Plaza. Tenants at the shopping center were told in November to look for another place, but they have not been given a time frame.

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After a 20-year run at Sherwood Plaza on Enota Drive, sisters Carolyn Adams and Peggy Copeland have been left with no other choice than to find a new location for their family-run hair salon — Hair Artistry.

Although they have a lease that’s good until next year, the siblings said Thursday that the uncertainty of what’s going to happen at the shopping center prompted them to look for a new place sooner rather than later.

“No matter what’s happening with the shopping center, we’re taking our business in our control and not have somebody tell us when we have to move or don’t have to move,” Adams said. “We took that piece off the table for us, and we’re going to move on.”

Copeland said it was a matter of them taking control of the situation and not the other way around.

“We felt like pawns in a chess game,” she said. “It’s not fun.”

Adams described the experience as “a roller coaster ride.”

Hudson Wilson, owner of Locos Grill & Pub at the shopping center, said he would like to stay put at the location he’s been for the past 20 years. He said some tenants have six months left on their lease and others, including him, have years. He and others also have a lease option in their agreement.

“We’re being squeezed for sure ...,” Wilson said. “We hope whoever it is that does buy the center treats the tenants fairly and with respect.”

Wilson said the tenants in Sherwood Plaza have a long track record.

“This is kind of where big business meets small business,” Wilson said. “This neighborhood, this part of town, needs what we provide. That’s why we’ve been here so long. People are interested in what happens. It’s not just a big real estate deal, it’s a personal matter for a lot of people in the community.”

The tenants at Sherwood Plaza were told in November to look for another place, Adams said.

“We were told they were going to repurpose the property,” she said.

To make matters worse, the sisters said they were getting shifting information from the leasing agent. Copeland said they were even told at one time they would have to move by June.

“This is too uncertain,” Adams said. “When you’re looking at a business, it would just be totally imprudent not to take care of ourselves and our future from those uncertainties. We can’t on a dime move our 10-station operation to another location real quick. We need time. So that’s what we’re doing.”

The sisters have a contract to move to a location on Thompson Bridge Road contingent on getting a special use designation from Gainesville city government. Their petition goes before planning and zoning officials next week.

Adams and Copeland said their heart sank when the business next door to them — Royale Nails — was denied a petition to move its salon across the street to a vacant building, despite a 3-1 vote by city council in the business owner’s favor. Council rules dictate that it takes four affirmative votes for anything to be approved.

The vote was taken with two council members away enjoying spring break with their families.

Royale Nail owner Lang Nguyen was still scratching his head over what transpired with his petition at the city council meeting this week.

“We don’t really know how many members in the city council, we don’t know,” said Nguyen, who’s been operating the nail salon for the past 11 years. “My agent and I came and we saw four of them. We didn’t know anything. So that’s why we go ahead. If we know four (votes) are needed, we’re going to say we have to come back. We didn’t know.”

Nguyen said when he heard the vote was 3-1 in his favor he was happy because he thought they had made it. Then he was told about the four yes vote rule. To make matters worse, he also was told he had to wait a year before council could revisit his petition.

“I live here for a long time and my kid goes to school here and I own my home here, I pay taxes here, and yet somehow they deny my request,” he said. “That’s ridiculous.”

Nguyen said many of his customers took to Facebook to rail against the city’s decision.

Now, Nguyen said, he and his agent are looking into other locations, including a nearby Regions Bank branch closed down last year. In the meantime, Nguyen, who also owns Royale Massage in Sherwood Plaza, said he’s trying to find out exactly how much time he has left before he’s got to move.

“I called the landlord again (Wednesday) and say ‘hey, I would like to know what is my future here, how much time I have left so I know what to do,’” Nguyen said. “The landlord don’t want to talk.”

Atlanta-based Selig Enterprises developed and leases space at Sherwood Plaza. Other tenants include H&R Block, Scrubs uniforms, El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant and China Bistro.

A message left for Bill Stogner, listed on Selig’s website as the leasing information contact for Sherwood Plaza, on Thursday seeking comment was not returned.


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