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Rent Dispute in Red Hook Leads to Flower Furor

The arrival of spring should have New York's green thumbs feeling pretty good, but these are sad times for the mulch mafia, and specifically the Red Hook Nursery District, which, yes, is a thing that actually exists. The Liberty Sunset Garden Center near Fairway is about to close up shop (relocation is possible), all because of a typical landlord-tenant rent dispute. Or so we, and garden designer/blogger Marie Viljoen, thought. On her 66 Square Feet blog, Viljoen talked about the sudden firesale currently happening at the Liberty Sunset Garden Center, which has been in business since 2006, though the owner has been operating as a contractor at the address for over 20 years. One commenter chimed in that this rent dispute is not quite what it seems.

Not exactly the "same old story" when eviction is just being realized after years of not paying rent. The owner of Liberty Sunset never had a lease and was given chance after chance to make good on his promises. The landlord even bartered wood-working contracts totaling over 300k just to keep Liberty Sunset in business. Now the debt owed to the Landlord is over 200k. There comes a point when enough is enough. If they do relocate let's hope their new Landlord isn't forced to subsidize Liberty Green's business for as long as the O'Connells have. Undoubtedly, their patience will not be similar. The O'Connells are the family that owns much of the Red Hook waterfront, and paterfamilias Greg O’Connell just scored some serious ink in the New York Times over the weekend for his love of rehabbing semi-abandoned industrial wastelands. The O'Connell Organization's Facebook page has a response to a pro-Liberty Sunset petition that's been making the rounds. Here's a taste:We could have pursued eviction long ago but instead had countless meetings and handshakes and came to many agreements which were not fulfilled. We had no choice but to exhaust all legal options because we were forced into that position. After not being reimbursed for use of about 25,000 square feet of our property for over a year now we have come to the conclusion that this may never end if we continue to extend Liberty Sunset. They have had more than enough time to relocate and remove their property but instead have focused their efforts on pushing a 'rant' to local media badmouthing us as well as creating this petition.Yowza. We haven't seen people get this worked up over plants since Martha Stewart stuck us with pruning shears for trampling on her rhododendrons!
· Liberty Sunset Garden Center [66 Square Feet]
· Liberty Sunset Petition [Facebook]