By Jim Newell
Hollywood Markets announced nearly two weeks ago that they would be closing their Orion Township location by the end of January, a blow to many in the community who love the family-owned grocery store.
When the news of the closing became public, many people took to social media speculating on the reasons why the store was closing and who was to blame.
Rumors circulated that the owners of the plaza were trying to force out Hollywood Markets; that a new fitness center might move into the location; and that the owners of the plaza demanded that Hollywood Markets sign an unreasonable lease agreement.
Ed Boutrous of Lake Orion Plaza, LLC, the owners of the plaza, said many of those rumors are untrue.
“They chose not to renew their lease and that’s why they’re leaving,” Boutrous said. “We’ve had conversations and it’s always been very amiable, if you will.”
During lease negotiations, Boutrous said the owners of Hollywood Markets and Lake Orion Plaza discussed several options, including month-to-month and multi-year lease plans.
“We love Lake Orion and Hollywood Market ran a very nice store,” Boutrous said. “We’ve been talking a lot and there’s never been one bit of rancor, at least not what I’ve detected.”
Boutrous said he was surprised when he saw Hollywood Market’s full-page ad in The Advertiser that read “We Lost Our Lease Sale.”
“We weren’t expecting this,” Boutrous said.
Sherman Publications, Inc. owns The Advertiser and The Lake Orion Review.
In an article that ran in the Jan. 3 issue of The Lake Orion Review, Hollywood Markets President Thom Welch said the grocery store chain and the plaza owners couldn’t come to a lease agreement and would be closing the Lapeer Road location.
Boutrous said rumors being posted online, such as in the chatrooms, that Lake Orion Plaza was trying to force out Hollywood Markets and Kmart are unfounded.
“There’s been this blow up here and, frankly, it’s not true. Where do people get this stuff?” Boutrous said, adding that Kmart renewed their lease and still has more than three years left on their agreement.
Boutrous also dismissed rumors that he and Lake Orion Plaza, which bought the plaza four years ago, wanted the Hollywood Markets location for a new fitness center, rumored to be Planet Fitness.
Boutrous would neither confirm nor deny that Lake Orion Plaza was in talks with a fitness center.
“At this moment, we do not have a lease signed with anybody else,” he said. “There has been some interest in that location.”
Despite the backlash, Boutrous said he and Lake Orion Plaza, LLC want the commercial center to succeed.
“We’ve been able to clean it up and paint it,” Boutrous said. “We’ll redevelop it when we are able and make it more attractive. That’s a very desirable corner.”
Hollywood Markets – Lake Orion opened its Lapeer Road location in 1997 replacing Farmer Jacks grocery store.
Hollywood Markets management notified its employees last week before the closing became public that they would not be renewing the lease agreement after Jan. 30.
The grocery chains five other locations will remain open.
On the web: www.hollywoodmarkets.com.