Owner of Cobblestone Inn, Ann Joshua, who the Government has given two months to leave the rented building where she has been operating the hotel for over 30 years, is prepared to go to court over the eviction.
However, her lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste said on Hot 97 FM Tuesday morning that Joshua is hoping that it will not get to that stage.
The Government owns the historic building on Bay Street, Kingstown where the hotel is located.
On July 9, a lawyer for National Properties Ltd., the state-owned firm responsible for management of the building, wrote to Joshua giving her until Sept. 30 to leave the premises.
The letter gave no reasons for the decision.
However, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is Joshua’s first cousin, said it was in the interest of transparency.
He told a press conference that Joshua did not win the tendency through an open competitive bid, a claim that has been shown to be false.
Joshua has said that she is current with her rent payments.
The Government has said that it will have an open tendering process in which Joshua can also enter a bid.
But Bacchus-Baptiste said Tuesday that the building has not been put up for tender.
“What they have put out is something called invitation for expression of interest. There is no mention in that about tender, there is no tender document, there is no advertisement as to where you can get tender documents and all the different things,” she said, noting that a tender document is “a big, thick document” containing a lot of details.
She said all she has seen is a one-page expression of interest document that is “vague, insubstantial”.
“So I am wondering what is going on,” the lawyer said.
Bacchus-Baptiste said that on Monday she wrote the NPL asking its manager, Hally Dougan for a meeting to discuss the matter and he has acknowledged receipt of the letter.
“So I am hopeful and waiting to hear from them. I expect to hear from them today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday) as to the way forward,” she said.
“It makes no sense, no commercial sense at all, what they are doing. You do not put out a tenant who is paying you $24,000 a month rent in this day and age in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and you have nothing in place. So, if she were to leave in September, what happens? The building will just stay like that until somebody else takes it up? It makes no sense, no commercial sense,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
She told listeners that Joshua has bookings up to December next year and her client is hoping for a meeting with NPL to discuss the way forward.
“But what I can say is that Mrs. Joshua is not going to roll over and play dead. We intend to take legal action, if necessary. We are assuming it would not be necessary,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
While Bacchus-Baptiste was confident that her client has a strong case, she did not want to entertain as yet that her client could find herself evicted and fighting a court battle, come Sept. 30.
“I’m not even going down that road right now because, like I said, we are having a meeting with the board of National Properties and I am hoping that they can see reason. All we are asking for is reason — for them to be reasonable and apply proper business etiquette, do what a reasonable landlord would do. That’s all.”
She said 30 years is a short time as it relates to business leases, noting that some go up to 99 years — as is the case with Young Island –with the option of renewal.
“There is absolutely no reason to throw a tenant out because they have been there a long time,” Bacchus-Browne said.