By Jim Hagerty
DOWNTOWN — Drama surrounding the restaurant space left vacant after the Hanley Furniture building fire continued over the holidays.
The space is the storefront at 307 S. Main St., occupied by Magpie from 2015 until a fire struck the adjacent Hanley building last June. Magpie owner Stephanie Caltagerone has since filed a lawsuit against her former landlord over terms of her existing lease and ownership of the building. She has also stated in various reports that she has been unable to retrieve her equipment, including a range hood, from the property.
Urban Equity Properties attorney Jeff Orduno told The Times that locks were changed after UEP Investments LLC received the property from Sam Pirrello last October.
According to communications between Orduno and Caltagerone’s then-lawyer reviewed by The Times, attempts were made to arrange for Magpie’s property to be removed from the space, including a walk through in November. Nothing was removed on that date though, Orduno said.
Terms of a new lease were also offered during the talks but were never accepted, prompting UEP to lease the space to another restauranteur.
Water and structural damage shuttered Magpie and the building’s other commercial tenants after the fire. It also led to the lawsuit against Sam Pirrello and others. Just after that complaint was filed, Pirrello signed the building over to UEP Investments, a limited liability company owned by Urban Equity Properties CEO Justin Fern. Fern’s Hanley Lofts LLC owns the Hanley property.
Orduno said the space at 307 S. Main has now been leased to the company that owns Sister’s Cafe and code violations caused by the fire are set to be remedied. Arrangements are being made through another attorney for Caltagerone to retrieve her equipment. And while Caltagerone alluded in a WREX report that the hood belongs to her, it may be a fixture that stays with the property.
Urban Equity Properties has also filed a police report over vandalism to the Magpie storefront, following damage to an awning on the streetside in the days surrounding UEP’s decision to place the property for lease. Orduno said because someone cut out a rectangular piece of the awning, the new tenant will be unable to use it.
“We are going to have to replace that awning now,” he said. “We want to seek restitution from whoever caused that level of material damage.”
Latreece Nealon says Sister’s on Main will open this spring. She’s owned the popular Sister’s Cafe on Kilburn Avenue for three years. The second location will feature all-day breakfast, biscuits and gravy, Friday fish fry and steak and eggs weekends. A future dinner menu may follow.
Caltagerone reportedly plans to reopen in another downtown space. Asked for comment, she was provided with text of the communications between UEP officials and her lawyer but did not respond. R.