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Compare Foods preparing to battle landlord in court

A local Compare Foods is preparing to fight its landlord to court, alleging it is being pushed out of its east Charlotte location in favor of a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

Grocery store chain partner Omar Jorge said the owner of the shopping center that includes its store near W.T. Harris Boulevard and North Sharon Amity Road sent a letter several months ago seeking to terminate the lease Compare Foods has on the property.

The lease was to run through 2036, Jorge said, and the two parties had been negotiating. But building permits filed on the property show that the landlord is already seeking to renovate the area to accommodate a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

Compare Foods is now planning to battle in court to keep its rights to the location, Jorge said.

“As a Latina-owned and -operated business, this situation is like David vs. Goliath,” store owner Nancy Peralta said in a statement. “I’ve worked my entire life and put all of my savings in making this store a success.” She said bringing in a big-box store would be bad for the neighborhood.

Compare Foods is based in New York, but its stores are independently owned. The privately held chain – which has 58 stores along the East Coast, including two dozen in the Carolinas – shares some purchasing and marketing activities.

The landlord, East Town Market LP, is controlled by the Florida-based real estate investment firm Sterling Organization. The company bought the property in 2007 for $14 million, two years after Compare Foods had moved in.

Sterling said at the time that the purchase was in line with its strategy of buying “Hispanic-oriented retail.” Chief Operating Officer Gregory Moross called Compare Foods an “extremely well-performing and established Hispanic grocer.”

Sterling did not respond Monday to requests for comment. A Walmart spokesperson couldn’t be reached.

Compare Foods held a press conference at the 3112 Milton Road location Tuesday morning that was attended by the store’s managers and employees, as well as church leaders in the area.

Dunn: 704-358-5235 Twitter: @andrew_dunn
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