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AMC Theaters denied renewal of Block E lease

  • January 18, 2012 - 8:15 PM

The owner of the movie theater at the troubled Block E retail complex in downtown Minneapolis lost an appeal in federal court Wednesday to extend its lease.

The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul upheld a previous ruling by District Judge Ann Montgomery indicating the theater does not have the right to extend its lease beyond September. It's unclear whether the action means the 15-screen theater will close or negotiate a new lease.

The theater, run by Atlanta-based AMC ShowPlace Inc., is one of the few tenants remaining in the distressed retail complex, which is now being eyed for a possible casino.

When Camelot LLC, a group controlled by Minneapolis-based Alatus LLC, bought Block E in 2010 for $14 million, it learned that the lease's language gave AMC the option to extend the lease to 2022, but the terms were not specified, according to a statement issued by Camelot's Minneapolis law firm, Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie.

AMC claimed that it could extend the lease -- "essentially a rent-free arrangement," according to Camelot's lawyers.

Rather than accept a buyout offer, AMC sued.

The appeals court decision "clears the way for Camelot as the owner of Block E to move forward with redevelopment plans." That could include the state's first non-tribal casino.

AMC Entertainment could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

JANET MOORE

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