Originally created 05/15/04

Signs show duel over right to sell



There are two sets of signs staked on the property at 4046 S. Belair Road. One says the land is for sale; the other says the business isn't.

Both are right.

The case of the dueling signs began earlier this year when the property owner hired Augusta real-estate broker Gwen Fulcher Young to market the property.

Ms. Young, who is trying to sell the parcel as part of a 29-acre package to shopping-center developers, put up a "for sale" sign.

That upset the property's tenant, Angie Bridges, who runs Finish Line Cafe.

"People started assuming I was selling my business," said Ms. Bridges, who has operated the small bar and grill for four years. "I don't want people thinking that any minute we're going to fold up and leave."

Ms. Bridges said her lease on the property prohibits the placement of sales signs until 30 days before the lease expires.

"There's still three years to go," said Ms. Bridges, who flanked Ms. Young's signs with signs of her own that say "This business is NOT for sale" after Ms. Young refused to move her sign.

Ms. Young and the property's owner, Ila Furlong, maintain that the sign provision is not enforceable because the owner did not sign the lease renewal. Ms. Bridges said the lease renewal was automatic and did not require a signature.

The differing interpretations have yet to be settled in court, and neither side is showing any sign of backing down on their signs.

"I'm marketing the property with the Finish Line Cafe on it as an income-producing building," Ms. Young said. "If the buyer wants that business to stay there with that income stream, there won't be an issue. If the buyer wants to clear it, then this dispute will have to be settled."

Ms. Young said the property, with an asking price of $500,000, is being packaged with the mostly vacant parcels of three neighboring landowners.

The 29 acres are just off the busy Belair Road section known as Jimmie Dyess Parkway.

She is marketing the land to retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart, but said it could end up being a mixed-use development that includes residential.

Ms. Young said she believes the sign fracas is not negatively affecting her marketing efforts, and that it might even be helping.

"If I didn't think it was a viable project, I wouldn't be putting money into marketing it," she said.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.