From October 2014 to June of this year the owners of Sarcoa Waterfront restaurant paid approximately $972,000 in rent, property taxes and utilities to the Hamilton Waterfront Trust. The figures were part of a termination notice that the HWT posted on the property when it evicted the restaurant from its premises on the former Discovery Centre property. In addition, right up until this past June, Sarcoa had made rent payments every month with the exception of four months in 2015 when Sarcoa withheld rent in protest over what is viewed as a breach of its lease regarding patio music. Sarcoa says in addition, they had an agreement with HWT that allowed the tenant to make reduced rent payments during winter months when business was slow, but the owners insisted they always made up the difference by the end of each calendar year. In addition Sarcoa was making court-ordered installment payments on the disputed rent, placing $3,000 each month into an escrow account. In all, the amount of money in dispute at the time the locks were changed on the restaurant was just under $200,000. Sarcoa co-owner Sam Destro says they tried to make the June rent payment but HWT refused to accept it and instead posted the eviction notice. As a result the HWT notice shows $226,000 outstanding
The rent on the property comprises only $11,420 of the monthly tab of $35,000 that Sarcoa was paying the Waterfront Trust. The remainder of the monthly payment consisted of property taxes of $6,700 per month, use of common space of $4,500, Hydro of $8,000 per month with the water bill and HST making up the remainder. Destro says the hydro charges don’t make sense given that since music was banned on the patio his business has dropped off by more than two thirds. “We only had two events between January and March of this year, and yet they billed us $8,000 per month anyway. “ He says the hydro meter on the building supports his contention that hydro use dropped off sharply. He says he has been rebuffed in attempts to get a look at the hydro bills that go to the HWT, but says it will all have to be disclosed when and if the lawsuit with the HWT gets to the discovery stage. “One thing that has been consistent with the Waterfront Trust,” Destro said, is the lack of information provided.”Sarcoa has engaged a Toronto law firm, and the Waterfront Trust has lawyered up with a national firm as well. Sam Destro also questions the fact that the tax payments on the Discovery Centre are roughly seven times that of the adjacent Williams Pub. In any event, Sarcoa has been billed $237, 000 in property taxes since the fall of 2014. Given that they are approximately 20 percent in arrears overall in payments to HWT, on a pro-rata basis they have paid roughly $190,000 as its share of the outstanding property taxes. Still as was revealed last month, the Waterfront Trust is roughly $325,000 behind on property taxes and is blaming its inability to pay on the dispute with Sarcoa even though its arrears are approximately $100,000 more than the disputed Sarcoa shortfall.