Gap Inc. is firing back at landlord Brookfield Property Partners, a month after the latter sued the retailer for withholding rent.
Five of Gap’s chains — Gap, Athleta, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Janie & Jack — sued Brookfield affiliates, claiming that its obligations to pay rent ended when government restrictions forced the company to close stores across the country, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.
In a complaint filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Gap argued that its leases with Brookfield should be modified or terminated because coronavirus-related restrictions made the core purpose of those leases “illegal, impossible, and impracticable.”
Gap also wants a refund of rent and expenses paid in advance for March 2020. The retailer alleged breach of contract, declaratory relief and unjust enrichment.
Gap operates 2,785 retail stores nationwide under its various brands and suspended rent payments in April for all of them. Mall owner Vestar was the first landlord to sue the company for unpaid rent in May, seeking $100,000 for rent at two California malls.
Brookfield sued Gap in Texas last month for $2 million in unpaid rent for stores in the state. Simon Property Group also sued Gap in June for $66 million in unpaid rent. Simon Property Group went on to sue Eddie Bauer and Brooks Brothers for unpaid rent last month.
While Gap is one of the most well-known companies to recently get into legal tiffs over rent, battles between other tenants and landlords are playing out across the country, with no signs of slowing. Many big chains, including Staples and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, have skipped rent since the pandemic began. [Crain’s] — Dennis Lynch