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Constantino's and City Market reach settlement

December 4, 2009
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Indianapolis City Market and anchor tenant Constantino's Market Place have agreed to an amicable divorce.

On Thursday, the two sides inked a settlement agreement in their dispute over $27,000 in unpaid rent. Constantino’s last day of operations in the market will be Dec. 24. The small business must remove its stand, equipment and belongings by Jan. 8.

“Both parties will part as friends,” said Constantino’s attorney Cliff Rubenstein, of Maurer Rifkin and Hill PC. “Constantino’s hopes the City Market is hugely successful in the future.”

Under the agreement, Indianapolis City Market Corp. will release Constantino’s from its obligation to pay its overdue rent. Riley Bennett and Egloff LLP partner Bryce Bennett, who represents the market, said there’s been “a lot of interest” from other potential tenants who could take over Constantino’s space. But no decision has been made on what will replace the stand, which sold fresh meats, cheese and produce.

“Litigation is an emotional as well as a financial drain,” Bennett said. “It’s just better at this point to agree to resolve it this way than to continue.”

Constantino’s ties to the City Market date back to 1911. Its owners, the Mascari family, closed their stand in 1996, but reopened it two years ago at the urging of market officials, who then expected a $2.7 million renovation of the main hall to bring back crowds. The Mascaris invested between $250,000 and $300,000 to build their 1,217-square-foot stand and install its refrigerated display cases.

In a Nov. 14 story, IBJ reported the 123-year-old City Market—which is now half-full, with only 25 tenants—had begun playing hardball with businesses in arrears, securing permission for Constantino’s eviction from Marion Superior Court Judge David Shaheed.

Constantino’s stopped paying rent 13 months ago, believing the terms of  its lease had been violated. After a hiatus, Constantino’s made partial payments in recent months. The business had argued it held exclusive rights to sell fresh fruit, vegetables and gift baskets in the City Market, and that the popular farmers’ market and several other stands violated its deal.

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