Friday 29 May 2009

IGA manager slams Cairns Post, Villa owner

It was a battle between Levi the Brave, and George of the Villa.

Former chef, and now manager of the 24-hour IGA Esplanade convenience store, received the wrath of Villa Romana's owner, George Papagelou on Tuesday night. The 30-year-old business owner was welcoming the arrival of his new son, born at 10:15pm on Monday night, as the drama unfolded.

"I got a call from staff, saying that security had arrived and were demanding they leave the building," IGA manager, Levi Blackwell said. "I didn't have much sleep on Monday and then having to deal with all this wasn't fun."

Papagelou ordered a security officer and locksmith to evict staff and patrons from the Aplin Street IGA at 7:30pm on Tuesday night, citing a tenancy dispute.

"I was shocked and we were taken off guard," says Levi Blackwell. "It's why they did this late in the evening."

"This action was taken by the landlord, without any prior notice and in circumstances where our solicitors were still waiting for answers to a number of questions," Jennifer Blackwell-Spencer, director of the family-owned business said.

They contest that there is money owed by the landlord to companies related to IGA Esplanade.

"There's a damages claim against George Papagelou for more than $60,000, as we had to pay to install air conditioning, plant equipment and additional lighting, which were part of the tenancy agreement," Levi Blackwell said.

An electricity account, issued by Papagelou to the Blackwell's, included charges for other businesses, unrelated to the IGA premises.

An urgent proceeding was filed in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday, and Justice Phillippides ordered Papagelou allow staff to re-occupy the shop, whilst the disputes were being resolved.

"We view these actions as unconscionable conduct by the landlord," Jennifer Blackwell-Spencer says. "We maintain that the landlord had no legal entitlement to lock us out of the shop and we are most disappointed with his actions, which have caused damage to our reputation in Cairns."

"I'm not impressed with the coverage in yesterday's Cairns Post," manager Levi Blackwell said.

"I wasn't contacted, the directors weren't contacted, I mean a reporter can say they called the store for comment, but the shop was closed on Tuesday night," Levi said.

"I went on John Mackenzie's radio to tell our side. There's not a lot we can do about it, other than some damage control."
Papagelou snubbed his nose at local Cairns Council planning laws, when he claimed 53 sq mt of the Aplin Street footpath in 2008, after covertly extending his restaurant. The incoming Schier-led Council vowed to demand it's removal, but only a cosmetic change was every made. The fixed exterior wall was replaced with a semi-permanent wall. The difference is unrecognisable, yet it was touted as a 'great compromise.'


CBD Merchant Class said...

So you complain the Cairns Post hasn't followed up with Levi Blackwell, and you haven't followed up with Papagelou?

Levi Blackwell is mostly considered an arsehole by merchants in the area. The IGA is a failed location; few customers go in there (just like the Cold Rock and the entrance to the Casa de Meze.) Papagelou has used the illegal extension to Villa Romana to block the view of all these shops. How come you protected you mate Val when she allowed a 'settlement' of this issue that basically changed nothing?

Unknown said...

ho hum, another crock of it from news corporation's cairns post. wilful liars the lot of them.

KitchenSlut said...

It would be interesting to know what rates are being paid by some of these landlords in Trilogy relative to other comparable Esplanade properties.

My numbers from two years ago show a valuation of $1,840/m2 for Trilogy compared to $2,328/m2 for Royal Harbour/Night Markets and $1,677/m2 for Hedley's new Vision. this is despite the height limit at Vision being half that of Trilogy. Trilogy owners, particularly of commercial and high valued units, should be doing rather well here in paying lower rates and land tax than the other properties,although if I had the full strata plans it would be possible to do complete numbers.

It would be interesting to know what Villa pay on the 53m2 ripped out of Aplin St?

Note: Anomalies surrounding rates on strata properties have caused dissent and enquiries from Cairns to Gold Coast and most recently Brisbane. A report from Gold Coast Council to the State Govt way back when Desley was Local Govt Minister clearly demonstrated the anomalies between valuations and the relevant strata title legislation which made it impossible for councils to implement fair rates systems across their communities. The Qld Govt has done nothing .....

Dutchie said...

Having been a tenant of George, I found George normally very reasonable. My word of advice: if there's one person in a business you don't want to piss off, it's your landlord.

aplin st trilogy operator said...

im amazed at the pursuit of one individual to constantly belittle the aplin st side of Trilogy retail. the iga provides a great service to the area by providing much more variety than a night owl, and 24 hours a day. the cold rock provides a far superior, locally made variety of ice cream rather than the imported crap of movenpick, new zealand natural and baskins. the only thing that makes this area a dead zone are dead beats such as yourself who have nothing better to do than trawl internet forums and fire slanderess emails and faxes in an attempt to feed your pathetic ego. grow up. aplin st operator.

Mr. Observation said...

I can understand the anger shown by the shopkeepers under the Trilogy. Huge rents and few customers doesn't make for a profitable business. And it isn't just the Trilogy side that's a dud, it's the south side too. We've got a cheap tourism shop, a couple tourist offices, a huge restaurant business that's failed THREE times, and TWO gelato shops. On the Trilogy side we've got a temporary corner rental selling junky clothing, several empty shops, an IGA that's close to gone, and a Cold Rock (more gelato) that is failing like the last time Cold Rock tried to crack the CBD.

I don't think it takes one bloke to point out the bleedin obvious, Mr. Aplin operator. You'd be better off getting out instead of bleeding more cash and having the landlord tip you out.

And you might ask the four ice cream vendors in a 50 metre area what's better, your ego or your wallet. No one can eat that much ice cream, especially as everyone now is cutting back on non-essentials.

townsvilleblowsclairns said...

just wondering what proof you have that cold rock and or IGA is failing? be very careful of slander on these sort of forums. oh yeah, cold rock aint gelato either.

Anonymous said...
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Unknown said...

Would anybody know what's the name of that clothing shop relative to Villa Romano?
Villa Romano has changed the manager called David for a while so George is not always here in Cairns.
But the report is very interesting