A longtime Indianapolis City Market tenant is refusing to vacate its space in the historic building and is suing to stop construction to convert the east wing into a bicycle hub.
Enzo Pizza Inc. filed suit April 12 against Indianapolis City Market Corp. after the market's lawyer notified owner Vincenzo Verderame that contractors would begin moving the restaurant to its new location on April 2.
But Enzo claims in its “wrongful eviction” complaint that City Market verbally agreed not to “forcibly” move the eatery to another space in the main building until its lease could be amended.
Enzo, which has operated at City Market since 1992, said it wants an agreement specifying who would pay for the relocation and for any damages to equipment or property that might occur during the move.
The new space City Market has designated for the restaurant is near the west entrance of the main building.
But, according to the complaint filed in Marion Superior Court, the space is 20 square feet smaller than Enzo’s current location. Enzo further complained that City Market never provided architectural or construction plans for the space.
"I think if someone is asked to open a business in a new location, I think they have the right to decide if they’ll get as good [a location] as what they have," Enzo lawyer Lesa Duvall said.
Enzo, a family-owned Indianapolis-based chain with seven locations, is seeking lost profit related to loss of business suffered during the the renovation. It charges in its lawsuit that City Market refuses to let the pizza joint remove barriers near its space, which have blocked access to its salad bar.
City Market attorney Bryce Bennett said some of Enzo's demands are unreasonable, if not impossible, to meet. At this point, he said, it would be impossible to stop construction of the bicycle hub.
"Any demand to renegotiate a lease is unreasonable," he said. "All we're trying to do is to relocate them to what we think is a better location in the main hall."
Construction began nearly two months ago, and Enzo is the only tenant left in the wing, City Market Executive Director Jim Reilly said.
“It’s got to be resolved very soon,” Reilly said of the court dispute. “It’s causing problems for the entire project.”
The $800,000 renovation to convert the wing into a bicycle hub is part of a larger, $3.4 million project to upgrade the main hall with new lighting, rest rooms and vendor stands.
Both the main-hall and east-wing projects are on track to be completed by late June.
The city also is continuing to look for additional funds to pay for the $500,000 demolition of the market’s west wing, a project that was delayed to compensate for the main-hall bids coming in over budget. Until money is found for that project, it’s unclear when the demolition will take place.
Meanwhile, City Market’s dispute with Enzo Pizza is not its first with a tenant unhappy with a move brought about by the renovation.
In December, City Market operators reached a deal with Grecian Garden for another space on the first floor of the main building different from what Grecian Garden said it originally was promised.