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Alta Vista Properties, L.C. v. Mauer Vision Center, P.C.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 16, 2017

ALTA VISTA PROPERTIES, L.C., Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
MAUER VISION CENTER, P.C., Defendant-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Bradley J. Harris, Judge.

         Alta Vista Properties appeals from an adverse judgment in its breach-of-contract action against Mauer Vision Center. AFFIRMED.

          Kevin D. Ahrenholz of Beecher, Field, Walker, Morris, Hoffman & Johnson, P.C., Waterloo, for appellant.

          Mark L. Zaiger and Kristymarie Shipley of Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

          DANILSON, Chief Judge.

         Alta Vista Properties, L.C. (Alta Vista) appeals from an adverse judgment in its breach-of-contract action against Mauer Vision Center, P.C. (Mauer Vision). Because there is substantial evidence supporting the fact findings of the district court and we find no error of law, we affirm.

         In June 2006, Alta Vista, owned by Ben Stroh, purchased property located at 124 Second Street NE, in Waverly, Iowa, for $900, 000. The seller of the property was I4NI, L.L.C., an entity owned by Dr. Richard Mauer. At the time of the sale in 2006, the property was subject to a fifteen-year lease with a remaining guaranteed rental income of $1.1 million from the tenant, Mauer Vision. The lease was assigned to Alta Vista at the time of purchase.[1] Mauer Vision retained the right of first refusal to purchase the building.

         In February 2012, Alta Vista sought to sell the property through Sulentic-Fischels Commercial Group (Sulentic). The original asking price was a little over $1 million, but eventually the asking price was reduced to $960, 000. In 2011, the property had an assessed value of $438, 330.[2] However, the remaining guaranteed lease payments from Mauer Vision would have been about $650, 000.

         Sometime in May 2012, Sulentic and a representative from Alta Vista requested the property be made available for persons interested in touring the property. Karen Stubbe, the administrator for Dr. Mauer's practice, communicated to Alta Vista the public areas of the business could be viewed but the property was not available for touring[3] and referred Alta Vista to Mauer Vision's legal counsel. Mauer Vision asserted that under the lease, access was not permitted until ninety days before the end of the lease term. Alta Vista asserted it had the right to sell the property and, therefore, to show the property to potential buyers.

         On June 27, 2012, Alta Vista filed a declaratory-judgment action seeking an interpretation of the commercial lease.

         On July 25, 2012, more than six years into the guaranteed thirteen-year income stream, Brent Dahlstrom and Alta Vista entered into a purchase agreement for the sale of the property for $950, 000. The following day, Alta Vista's attorney provided Mauer Vision documentation of the offer in connection with the right of first refusal to purchase the property. Mauer Vision declined to purchase the property for $950, 000. Dahlstrom took no further action to pursue the property, including failing to request access to the property or visit the portions of the building open to the public, and the transaction did not go forward.

         Both Alta Vista and Mauer Vision filed motions for summary judgment in the declaratory-judgment action. On February 2013, the district court found the commercial lease unambiguous and granted summary judgment to Mauer Vision.

         On May 21, 2013, Alta Vista agreed to sell the property at issue as part of a "package deal" to Kyle Hawthorne. Alta Vista allocated $600, 000 of the total purchase price to the Mauer Vision property. Alta Vista presented the offer to Mauer Vision, ...


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