Kitson Settles Suit With Americana

Less than one year after high-profile Los Angeles retailer Kitson opened an emporium at Glendale, Calif.shy;–based luxury shopping center The Americana at Brand, the two influential players in Los Angeles specialty retailing settled a lawsuit on July 6.

The Americana sued Kitson for unlawful detainer, or not paying rent. According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on March 20, Kitson had not paid rent in the amount of $399,599.86 as of Feb. 23. Kitson opened a two-level, 15,000-square-foot emporium in November 2008 at The Americana, which was developed by Caruso Affiliated. Caruso also developed influential Los Angeles luxury center The Grove. Kitson owner Fraser Ross said he is not closing any stores. “Caruso wants us to be there,” he said. “We want to be there. We’re trying to get fair-market value on our locations.” Kitson attorney Glenn J. Feldman of Feldman Rolland said his client and The Americana are negotiating over what format a Kitson store at the retail complex will take. “It will be retained in Glendale but in a different format,” Feldman said. “It will not be an anchor.”

The Americana lawsuit was settled just as another unlawful-detainer case against Kitson began gaining steam. On June 17, RP120 LLC, the landlord of the Kitson Kids boutique at 116 N. Robertson Blvd., sued the retailer for unlawful detainer of $74,080.38. The suit said the fair-rental value of the space is $690.77 daily. Ross owns four other Kitson boutiques on Robertson Boulevard and is one of the largest tenants on the high-profile street, with 15,000 square feet of retail and office space. The case is scheduled for a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court on Oct. 15. But Feldman said the case is days away from being resolved.

According to attorney Gregory Weisman, unlawful-detainer lawsuits are becoming increasingly common in a tough economy. “’Unlawful detainer’ is a fancy term for ’eviction proceedings,’” Weisman said. “It can be based on a host of different reasons, but it usually means the tenant isn’t paying rent and the landlord wants them out. Options for the tenant are no different than anyone else with a cashflow problem: Either they renegotiate debt, look for an investor or start talking to bankruptcy counsel.” Weisman is a partner and chair of the apparel-practices group of law firm Silver & Freedman.

The unlawful-detainer suits were filed during a period of expansion for Kitson. On June 2, Disneyland Resort announced a Kitson Kids boutique will open in the exclusive Downtown Disney shopping district in Anaheim, Calif. The 1,600-square-foot store is scheduled to open in late July. A 2,000-square-foot Kitson Men store opened on June 27 at the recently debuted Malibu Lumber Yard in Malibu, Calif. In March, Kitson opened a store in Tokyo. In November 2008, it opened Kitson Melrose at 8590 Melrose Ave., in West Hollywood, Calif. The 7,200-square-foot store offers men’s and women’s fashions. —Andrew Asch