DENVER — A battle over homelessness is heating up between a tenant and landlord in Denver’s Lower Downtown (LoDo) neighborhood.
In September 2021, Seattle-based Unico bought the five-story building on the corner of 18th and Blake streets. 7-Eleven had been a tenant of that building for more than a decade. Shortly after the purchase, according to 7-Eleven, Unico claimed the convenience store on the ground floor was attracting vagrants, making other workers in the building feel unsafe.
This week, 7-Eleven’s corporate office filed a lawsuit against Unico, claiming the building owner broke the lease agreement when it charged the store thousands of dollars for security over these so-called vagrancy issues.
Steve Gregory stops by the convenience store every day.
“It’s not one business's problem… it’s a problem of our society,” said Gregory.
Denver7 obtained a copy of the lawsuit filed by 7-Eleven, which claims there is only so much the convenience store can do when it comes to people on public sidewalks.
According to the lawsuit, in November 2022, Unico issued a demand for payment of more than $20,000 for additional security. 7-Eleven paid that money under protest. Unico then sent a demand letter to 7-Eleven on March 6 for an additional $54,000, which has not been paid.
7-Eleven said it has taken numerous steps in good faith, including hiring a roving surveillance service and offering to install more cameras, which the store claims the building's owner rejected.
The convenience store claims its proximity to Union Station and 16th Street Mall — two areas struggling with homelessness — is the root cause of the problem, not the store itself.
"7-Eleven is not doing anything to attract them and it is merely operating a legal business," the lawsuit reads.
Attorneys for 7-Eleven declined the chance to comment on the lawsuit. Denver7 reached out to representatives for Unico but did not hear back.