U-City has been in negotiations with Albertson’s, hoping to fill the space that has been empty since Rosauers left the mall in 1988.
A Spokane County Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that the owners of University City Shopping Center can sell store space at the mall to Albertson’s.
Rosauers Supermarkets, which leases its store one block east of the shopping center from University City, fought the proposed sale. But Superior Court Judge Paul Bastine said that nowhere in the lease between Rosauers and U-City “is there an express obligation that U-City cannot sell the property,” Bastine wrote.
The judge added it was understood by Rosauers and U-City that the mall, in whole or in part, would be sold eventually.
“The only conclusion factually and legally is that the property can be sold to a third party,” he wrote.
U-City has been in negotiations with Albertson’s, hoping to fill the space that has been empty since Rosauers left the mall in 1988 and moved one block east to 10920 E. Sprague.
John Magnuson, U-City’s attorney and the son of mall president Harry Magnuson, said his father and and Boise-based Albertson’s Inc. have “awaited the judge’s decision with anticipation and are pleased with it.”
Rosauers officials did not return repeated phone calls. Court documents indicate that Albertson’s will close its store at Pines and Sprague if it buys the U-City property. However, Mike Read, Albertson’s director of public relations, said the grocery chain intends to operate both stores “for the time being.”
No opening date has been scheduled for the U-City location, Read said.
Spokane-based Rosauers Supermarkets filed a lawsuit in May against U-City in an attempt to obtain a temporary restraining order forbidding U-City from negotiating a lease or sale deal with any other grocery store. That request was denied.
U-City filed a countersuit against Rosauers alleging that Rosauers’ lawsuit was motivated in part by an intent to shy away a potential buyer.
Rosauers said in court documents that selling the space to Albertson’s would be a “violation of the express and implied lease obligations” between the mall and Rosauers.
Rosauers operated a grocery store on the U-City site even before the mall opened in 1965. The Rosauers store at Sprague and University opened in 1959; that store became part of the shopping center when U-City was built adjacent to it.