Westfield hauls Starbucks into court in WTC mall dispute

Landlord claims coffee chain abandoned retail site

World Trade Center Mall (Getty)
World Trade Center Mall (Getty)

Westfield executives’ morning coffee run is likely skipping Starbucks after the shopping mall operator filed a federal lawsuit against the coffee chain Tuesday.

The $5.2 million suit alleges that Starbucks tried to break its lease at the World Trade Center Mall seven years ahead of schedule, according to Crain’s. The lease has since been revoked by Westfield.

Westfield claims that Starbucks agreed to open in 2016 and operate throughout its lease, but remained shuttered when the mall reopened after a six-month pandemic shutdown.

Starbucks then tried to terminate the lease in March, claiming it could do so under the lease because its annual revenue fell below $2.5 million. Westfield contends the provision is only enforceable if the store is operating.

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Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield CEO Christophe Cuvillier, Westfield Century City in Los Angeles and Westfield World Trade Center in New York (Getty, iStock, Google Maps)
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This is not the first dispute between Starbucks and Westfield at the World Trade Center Mall. In January, Starbucks was the party that sued, claiming its landlord has not prepared a separate space Starbucks agreed to operate within the mall back in 2012. No rent is being charged at that location and the case remains active in federal court.

This is also not the first abandonment dispute for Westfield at the mall. Three months ago, Westfield sued Victoria’s Secret for more than $32 million, claiming the retailer stopped paying rent and wrongfully abandoned its store. Victoria’s Secret claimed that it terminated the lease at the beginning of the year because co-tenancy requirements were not being met.

[Crain’s] — Holden Walter-Warner

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