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High rent causing Stuart business to shut down

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 5:36 PM EDT
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A popular downtown Stuart business will be closing this summer.

The owner of Vine and Barley says their landlord planned to increase rent by nearly 50 percent, something they say they can't afford to pay especially after a tough pandemic year.

Mark Carbone said he understands property values are increasing but hoped negotiations would have played out differently.

The Carbones have owned the business in Stuart for nearly five years, moving from Palm City.

"I always wanted to be in downtown Stuart," Carbone said.

He also lived in the loft above the business.

Mark Carbone explains the tough decision to close his business in downtown Stuart.
Mark Carbone explains the tough decision to close his business in downtown Stuart.

"There's not too many places that are as quaint," he said.

He did it all while getting to work with his family and getting involved in the downtown scene by supporting community events.

He thought the biggest threat to his business was COVID-19. His bar faced some of the toughest shutdown restrictions, causing him to lose thousands of dollars in business.

But he said he never skipped a rent payment, so he felt good going into a negotiation for a new 10-year lease as his five-year lease is nearing its end.

"The conversation came up yes, and it went downhill from there," Carbone said. "I understand the market is crazy right now, that's part of the problem for a tenant to try to negotiate a lease when the market is up. Well, the market isn't going to be up here in two years or three years," Carbone said.

Carbone's landlord told WPTV that he felt he negotiated in good faith. He has placed the location for lease or sale but said he is about to close a contract for a new lease.

He did not disclose what the new business will be but said it is family-owned.

Bill Moore, the president of the Downtown Stuart Business Association, said he is keeping an eye on what the "hot market" might mean for other small businesses.

"The problem is when the economy cools down, and we don't see this type of spending, and the landlord has raised the rent 20, 30, 40, 50 percent, they typically never lower it, and then you're stuck making less money," Moore said.

Carbone and his family are now making the most of their final months before they close in September.

"I know that we had a great time here. I know that something good's coming. What it is? We'll see," Carbone said.

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