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04/14/2020

New Leases on Life for Earth Fare

Gina Acosta
Executive Editor
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New Leases on Life for Earth Fare
Earth Fare, which had been based in Asheville, N.C., filed for Chapter 11 on Feb. 4.

Earth Fare is coming back to life thanks to the sale of 10 store leases across the South and mid-Atlantic.

A&G Real Estate Partners announced that it has sold the leases, and negotiated lease termination agreements on nine other locations, from the bankrupt Earth Fare natural and organic specialty grocery chain. All told, the court-approved transactions contributed more than $6 million to the estate of Earth Fare, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on Feb. 4 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del.

With the final leasehold sale to winning bidders closing on April 10, A&G brokered the sale of leases for four Florida locations to Southeastern Grocers' Winn-Dixie chain (Boynton Beach, Jacksonville, Lakewood Ranch and Viera); three locations (Athens, Ga., Asheville, N.C., and Roanoke, Va.) to an investor group that includes one of Earth Fare's founders and several of the chain's former executives; two locations to Whole Foods Markets (South Asheville, N.C., and Chattanooga, Tenn.); and one to Aldi (Tallahassee, Fla.). The investor group also acquired Earth Fare's trade name and other intellectual property.

The leases sold were for sites averaging 26,000 square feet and ranging in size from 21,000 square feet to 38,000 square feet.

"We completed this process in less than 60 days amid one of the biggest public health and economic crises in U.S. history," noted A&G Senior Managing Director Joseph McKeska, a 28-year veteran of the retail grocery sector. "Leases for the remaining 38 locations we were handling were rejected and returned to the landlords in late-March, freeing the estate from having to pay April rents on those sites. Considering all of the obstacles faced during this unusually difficult period, we were pleased with the results of this fast-track sale."

At least seven Earth Fare locations are reopening in South Carolina under new ownership by the investor group. New Earth Fare president Bethany Turon, a former executive of the original company, told the State newspaper that it will open new Earth Fare stores in Columbia, Rock Hill and Summerville and is working to secure a fourth location in South Carolina.

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