Brookside shop owners are worried they may soon be forced out of their longtime space for new chain stores.
Some of the mom-and-pop stores face new contracts and higher rent from the real estate investment group First Washington. The Maryland-based group purchased the strip of shops in 2014. The company did not return phone calls from 41 Action News.
Dr. Kelly Logan, owner of Element Wellness, Spa and Studio in Brookside, said the group notified her only days ago that it intended to raise her rent by 15 percent.
She said the out-of-town real estate company has given her until September 24 to make a decision.
"If I have to let it go, I'll let it go, but it's not going to be without standing up for myself and the other people who are in a similar situation," Logan said.
Logan said she understands there are incremental rent increases, but a sudden surge in the cost of her monthly payments would force her to leave.
Customers said they choose to live in Brookside because it's local.
"I like the homegrown feel. The local people started these businesses and had them forever," said resident Sara Walsh.
Some of the businesses facing a decision, like Brookside Toy and Science, have been around since the 1950s.
In 2014, Foo's Fabulous Frozen Custard nearly didn't see its 27th anniversary because of troubled lease negotiations soon after First Washington bought Brookside Shops. After the community rallied online in support of Foo's, the local mainstay Brookside shop stayed.
"Hopefully the new owners will realize we want local. The people around the neighborhood they want local. They don't want Forever 21 coming down here or all the big chains,” said Forbes Cross of Michael Forbes Grill. “You can go to the shopping mall for that. This is a local neighborhood, and we want local businesses.”
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