BANGOR, Maine — Attorneys for Diamonds gentlemen’s club and the owners of the building it occupies squared off at the Penobscot Judicial Center on Tuesday morning over who owes what, who should pay and whether the club can be evicted.
At issue is $106,000 in repairs and modifications made by Diamonds — a club featuring a bar, a DJ and scantily clad female dancers — during initial construction in order to bring the 190 Harlow St. space up to code.
“We think a large portion of the $106,000 spent to bring the entire space up to code is the landlord’s responsibility, but not the other $250,000 spent on construction and renovation,” said attorney Charles Gilbert of Bangor during his summation on behalf of Diamonds.
Landlords Tom Brann and sons Matthew and Patrick Brann contend that Diamonds violated conditions of its lease when it withheld rent payments, putting them in escrow instead as the two sides argued over the lease terms. They also maintain that lease terms specifically assign responsibility for all alterations, modifications and enhancements at the Harlow Street space to the tenant.
“My client followed the terms of the lease to a T,” said Bangor attorney Seth Harrow, who is representing the Branns. “Eviction is proper here, and since this is a commercial lease, the same latitude for residential tenants does not apply.”
The two sides argued their cases during an eviction hearing brought by the Branns before Judge Jessie Gunther, who said after the 3½-hour hearing that because of the urgency of the case, she expected to be able to return with a decision on Friday.
Gilbert, on behalf of Arayos LLC, Diamonds’ ownership group, filed suit against the Branns last month. The Branns responded by serving Diamonds ownership group manager Jim Tower with an eviction notice.
Tower maintains he informed the Branns that the repairs and replacements were necessary for him to receive a certificate of occupancy, according to city officials.
“I told them very promptly, within minutes, because it had been the Branns’ contention right along that everything was up to code and the city was wrong,” Tower said.
Pat Brann testified that Arayos owed them $39,766.02, including late fees, in rent.
As for the terms of the lease, Gilbert argued that paragraph 24 of the lease, which he called the “self help” clause, backs Arayos’ argument that the Branns bear responsibility for the extra construction required to bring the space within code.
“It reads ‘if tenant needs to give notice of cure, tenant can notify landlord and if nothing is done within 24 hours, the tenant has the right to self help,’” Gilbert read. “During the month of January, that’s exactly what occurred.”
Gilbert also said Harrow neglected to mention the last part of the clause attributing tenant responsibility.
“Tenants shall be responsible for all alterations, modifications and enhancements that the tenant initiates or requests,” Gilbert read. “My client did not initiate or request these changes regarding plumbing, electrical wiring and fire alarms. This was required by the city.”
Harrow responded by saying that Arayos’ notice requesting changes was not sent certified mail, as is required legally, and arrived after the Jan. 13 deadline for rent payment.
“They’ve had numerous breaches of their lease … and racking up $106,000 in alterations without notice just isn’t right,” Harrow said.