The White Flint Mall entrance in January 2015 Credit: Andrew Metcalf

The White Flint Mall dispute isn’t contained to the courthouse.

Lord & Taylor’s ongoing battle with Lerner Enterprises, the owners of the nearly vacant mall on Rockville Pike, is now extending to Lerner’s applications for county demolition permits.

In a letter sent to Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS) on Feb. 24, a lawyer for Lord & Taylor requested that no demolition permits for the mall be issued unless Lord & Taylor is first able to review them. The letter puts forth a series of questions about how traffic circulation, emergency access, pedestrian movement, entrance accessibility and parking for the Lord & Taylor store will be impacted by the demolition of the mall.

In February, Lerner applied for several demolition permits to begin tearing down the mall. Lord & Taylor is the only store that remains open at the once flourishing regional mall on Rockville Pike.

The retailer is involved in an ongoing lawsuit with the mall’s owners over an easement agreement that stated the owners would maintain the mall as a “first-class, high-fashion retail shopping center” until at least 2042. On March 4, a federal appeals court rejected Lord & Taylor’s request for an injunction to halt the demolition of the mall.

In a response to Lord & Taylor’s letter, Edward de Avila, Lerner’s vice president of redevelopment, wrote to DPS the court ruling means demolition and redevelopment work at the mall can proceed. He wrote that Lerner attempted to negotiate with Lord & Taylor about demolition issues prior to the retailer sending the letter to the permitting services department.

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“We again want to reiterate our disappointment over the fact that Lord & Taylor has chosen to attempt to turn this process contentious rather than accepting our earlier attempt to work with them on various demolition issues,” de Avila wrote.

DPS Director Diane Schwartz Jones said the department is reviewing Lerner’s applications and that it is also waiting for certain documents to be submitted before deciding whether to grant the permits.

“Staff is reviewing the application, plans, the content of these letters and dealing with the applicant in connection with all of it,” Jones said.

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A federal District Court case continues in the dispute between Lord & Taylor and Lerner. On March 12, lawyers representing the mall’s owners asked District Court Judge Roger W. Titus to schedule a trial in the case to decide on Lord & Taylor’s remaining claim for monetary or other damages related to the lease agreement. Lerner claimed in the court filing that Lord & Taylor, after losing the injunction battle, is attempting to sandbag the demolition and redevelopment of the mall through extended legal maneuvering.

In 2012 Montgomery County planning officials approved a sketch plan submitted by Lerner and its partner in the mall, the Tower Cos., to redevelop the mall property into a town center-style mixed-use development with more than 2 million square feet of retail and office space, more than 2,400 apartment units, a hotel and an estimated 13 acres of public open space.

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A sketch plan proposal by the White Flint Mall owners to redevelop the mall property.

Above photo: Moving trucks parked in front of P.F. Chang’s after it closed at the mall in January. The Lord & Taylor store is located next to the restaurant. Credit: Andrew Metcalf