Landlord files another lawsuit against Bethesda developer

The Red Tomato Cafe and BCC Automotive garage will likely be  the next businesses forced out by what a landlord says are significant safety  issues from constructionThe owner of the building that housed the popular Red Tomato Cafe has filed another lawsuit against the developer and construction contractors of a next-door apartment building.

Green Tomato LLC, which owns the buildings at 4910 and 4912 St Elmo Ave., filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court against developer Bainbridge, the Turner Construction Company and Schnabel Foundation Company.

In the suit, the property owner claims sheeting and shoring work done for the 17-story, 200-unit apartment building caused structural damage to its buildings.

Green Tomato is a limited liability company held by Greenhill, the same property owner that sued Bainbridge and its construction contractors for the same structural issues in its buildings at 4905 and 4909 Fairmont Ave. Those buildings were home to Fresh Grill and a dance studio.

The landlord and Bainbridge settled that suit four days before a scheduled December 9, 2013 trial. Subsequent court proceedings revealed the defendants agreed to pay the landlord $3.2 million in damages. Circuit Court Judge Ronald Rubin then ordered the defendants to pay White Flint Express LLC another $3.5 million in court fees.

In its suit filed Tuesday, Green Tomato LLC claims Bainbridge refused to discuss how to resolve structural issues and cracks it said also happened in the St Elmo Avenue properties.

“Yet Defendants nevertheless have forced Green Tomato to file this suit to recover Green Tomato’s identical damages,” read the suit.

Red Tomato Cafe and next-door BCC Automotive closed in January, citing the landlord’s concerns about structural damage. Last week, Bainbridge got permission to seek occupancy permits to portions of the nearly-completed building despite unfinished streetscaping work.

The project, originally called “The Monty,” is now significantly behind schedule — in part because of construction delays brought on by the sheeting and shoring work.

In March 2012, the county’s Department of Permitting Services stopped construction work on the apartment, later approving a plan from the construction company to prevent similar damage to the Fairmont Avenue buildings.

Fresh Grill, the restaurant that was forced out of its building, is suing the developer, construction company, foundation contractor and landlord, claiming the whole saga led to it going out of business.

Green Tomato LLC claims the same sort of structural damage happened in Red Tomato Cafe and BCC Automotive, though it’s unclear if those businesses were ever asked to vacate. Green Tomato LLC bought the St Elmo Avenue properties in October 2012, well after Greenhill’s issues with Bainbridge started at its Fairmont Avenue properties.

PDF: Green Tomato Complaint Against Bainbridge

Advertiser Content