Landlord sues to force Saks Fifth Avenue to reopen in Puerto Rico

Saks, one of two anchor tenants at Taubman-owned Mall of San Juan, hasn't said when it expects to reopen there

Saks Fifth Avenue store at Mall of San Juan prior to Hurricane Maria
Saks Fifth Avenue store at Mall of San Juan prior to Hurricane Maria

Shopping mall landlord Taubman Centers Inc. sued tenant Saks Fifth Avenue in Puerto Rico for delaying reconstruction of its hurricane-damaged store at a shopping mall in San Juan.

The Taubman-owned Mall of San Juan in the capital city of Puerto Rico has two anchor tenants, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Robert Taubman, chief executive officer of Taubman, said last week on a conference call with stock analysts that his company has agreements with Nordstrom and Saks that require both retailers to repair and reopen their stores at Mall of San Juan as soon as possible.

Taubman said Nordstrom expects to reopen its store at Mall of San Juan sometime in 2018, but Saks hasn’t determined how soon it will reopen its store there.

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So, Taubman Centers filed a lawsuit in Puerto Rico Superior Court to force Saks to start repairing its 10,000-square-foot store at the mall and to reopen it as soon as possible.

In its lawsuit, Taubman Centers alleges that Saks apparently hasn’t tried to secure its store at the mall by repairing its cracked roof and taking other steps to limit damage from water and mold.

Puerto Rico still faces widespread power outages and damage to infrastructure almost eight weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island nation on Sept. 20.

According to Taubman, 55 of 90 tenants at the Mall of San Juan have reopened their stores and more are expected to do so in time for the late-year holiday shopping season. Other tenants could seek rent relief if anchor stores fail to open soon enough. [Wall Street Journal] — Mike Seemuth