Businesses evicted from East Manatee complex

MANATEE -- A foreclosure case involving a local commercial complex turned ugly Monday when two businesses were evicted.

Outside the Creekwood East Commerce Center at 5103 Lena Road, office equipment, furniture and supplies were strewn about the sidewalk and parking lot.

Manatee County Sheriff’s deputies delivered a court-ordered eviction notice to two businesses at the request of Stearns Bank, which purchased the commerce center in a foreclosure sale this year.

An attorney for Stearns Bank says business owners were given ample opportunity to ensure they were current on their lease payments and agree to any new lease terms.

Business owners say bank officers called them Monday and gave them 15 minutes to move.

“This is emotionally disturbing,” said Lisia Barnes, president of Crowning Party Rentals, as she packed her company’s equipment into an RV. “Our whole business is sitting on the road.”

The Creekwood East Commerce Center, built in 2008 with 27,000 square feet of office and warehouse space, went into foreclosure in May 2009, according to Manatee County court records.

Records show First State Bank filed the foreclosure against CJV Corp. and Daniel V. Via stating the owners owed $5.4 million through April 20, 2009.

Stearns Bank purchased the property in a foreclosure sale on Jan. 13.

Officials from Stearns Bank confirmed the eviction but declined comment.

Sarasota-based attorney Kevin Bruning, who represents Stearns Bank, said he sent a letter to the tenants in August to notify businesses of the bank’s right to increase the rent.

Bruning said the letter also was to clarify confusion over where tenants should submit lease payments as some were still paying Via when they should have been paying the bank.

“I can understand if some tenants were confused, but even in that circumstance we laid out for them, if you’re afraid to pay this person or that person at least pay it to the court registry,” Bruning said. “Obviously anybody who got evicted didn’t do that.”