PALMETTO — Groover’s Super Market has shut its doors.
“We appreciate your business, we have shut down the store,” said a sign posted on the decrepit grocery, which spawned years of legal wrangling after neighbors and county officials concluded it was a magnet for crime.
Deputy County Attorney James Minix said the store apparently “just shut down” and its lessee had left.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but nothing to prevent a new Groover’s in there,” he added, noting the owner could re-open at any time.
The only way to ensure Groover’s is truly closed is to have a judge confirm it with a court order, Minix said, adding he intends to pursue just that.
Meanwhile, one of the neighbors was celebrating.
“I’m so glad,” said a neighbor who declined to give her name, fearing retribution. Asked whether she felt safer, she replied, “Oh, yes, I do — so they shut it down?”
Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallen said he wasn’t sure how the closing happened, but added he hoped “something positive comes out of it.”
Last month, Manatee County filed a contempt motion against the market, an effort to close it as a public nuisance.
The motion asked Circuit Judge Diana L. Moreland to find the market in contempt on grounds that it failed to comply with her July 13 order requiring security enhancements in an effort to halt rampant crime there.
A hearing was slated for next month.
In last summer’s order, Moreland decided that a total shutdown of the market was unnecessary, but she granted the county’s request for a temporary injunction in an effort to halt criminal activity flourishing there.
The order noted that between 2004 and 2011, an estimated 1,734 calls to police for help originated at or near the market. “Groover’s failures harm a community striving for a turnaround,” Moreland wrote.
Listed as defendants in Minix’ contempt motion were Horizon Construction Management Services, LLC; KNP, Inc., doing business as Groover’s Super Market, located at 110 17th St. W.; and Ramesh Patel, operator, court records said.
The business was also involved in bankruptcy and foreclosure cases, according to court records.
D. Rand Peacock Jr., an attorney representing Chetan Shah, managing member of Horizon Construction Management Services, could not be reached for comment after business hours Tuesday.
Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant is a member of the family that at one time owned the property, but she has never been an owner herself, according to her son, attorney Patrick Bryant.