BANGOR, Maine — The moving vans haven’t started backing up to the entrance yet, but barring a successful appeal, the Diamonds gentleman’s club at 190 Harlow St. has effectively been evicted.
District Court Judge Jessie Gunther ruled Friday in favor of CEL LLC — the rental management company owned by Tom Brann and sons Patrick Brann and Matthew Brann — and found that Arayos LLC, the owner of the Diamonds club and franchise, owes the Branns $35,466.
“We appreciate the decision, and I think it was a fair ruling,” said Tom Brann, a forest resources professor at the University of Maine and Hampden town councilor.
Arayos also was found to be in violation of its lease and subject to eviction.
Arayos manages the club — featuring a bar, a DJ and scantily clad female dancers — which opened Feb. 22.
“The court judgment says a writ of possession will issue in seven days,” said Seth Harrow of Bangor, attorney for the Branns. “They also have a 30-day right of appeal, but there are provisions in the law for my client to take back the property in less than 30 days.”
Jim Tower, identified in court documents as “principal of Arayos,” said the club has not closed and he and Arayos will pursue an appeal.
“I believe an appeal was filed today,” he said Monday afternoon. “We are definitely open for business and the appeal will speak for itself.”
Tower, former member of the Glenburn Economic Development Committee, wouldn’t say much about the court decision.
“The court moves in mysterious ways. The decision was unexpected,” said Tower, who is also a registered Maine engineer.
When reached earlier Monday, Arayos attorney Charles Gilbert of Bangor was reluctant to comment on the ruling in the eviction lawsuit until it was publicly released by the court. Attempts to reach him after a copy of the decision was obtained were unsuccessful.
It was Gilbert’s contention in the eviction hearing at Penobscot Judicial Center last Tuesday that CEL was in breach of the lease because Arayos had to spend $106,000 to make alterations, repairs and improvements in the property’s electrical, plumbing and fire alarm systems to bring it up to code and secure a certificate of occupancy from city officials.
Harrow and the Branns maintained that any such alterations, improvements and changes — as spelled out in terms of the lease — were to be done at the tenant’s expense.
“In terms of the key issues to the case, I think my clients followed the terms of the lease to the letter, making sure things were done appropriately,” said Harrow. “I would say Arayos has a very good lawyer. He argued on behalf of his clients very well and made an issue of several things, but the bottom line was Arayos did not pay the rent and did not follow terms of the lease to a T.”
Another factor weighing in the Branns’ favor with the court was a written lease requirement that the tenant would be permitted to make structural alterations “only if it shall first have obtained the prior written consent of the landlord.”
Because of the dispute, Arayos elected not to pay the rent from January onward, instead putting those payments in escrow. Arayos also filed a lawsuit against CEL last month.
Gunther said in her written decision that Arayos went forward with the electrical, plumbing and fire alarm work on its own, and “presented the plaintiff with a fait accompli and the bill. The defendant [Arayos] cannot put plaintiff in breach by undertaking construction without consent, and then claim a default for the failure to reimburse its costs.”
Gunther ruled that Arayos owed CEL $39,766, minus an $1,800 oil bill paid by Arayos and $2,500 as part of the fire alarm upgrade cost CEL agreed to share.
“The work was done without any proper notice given to my client. A lot more communication would have gone a long way in this case,” Harrow said.