Burnaby's International Sausage House squares off against condo developers
For lovers of European sausages and ham, the corner of Gilmore Avenue and Halifax Street in Burnaby is a slice of heaven.
Like its forerunner that started there in about 1967, the International Sausage House makes its products on-site, and one can buy retail from its deli at the same location.
Two properties adjacent to it have been bought by the Millennium Development Group, the developer of the Olympic Village in Vancouver.
The location is along a stretch of Gilmore Avenue in Brentwood, one of four Burnaby town centres designated for high-density residential development. As related in a recent B.C. Supreme Court decision, the municipality purportedly prefers the sausage-making property to be included in future development.
But as Justice Stephen Kelleher also noted in his decision dated July 29, Millennium, which wants to buy the property, and other parties would have to go to a full-blown trial next year to sort out issues that have bogged down the sale of 1846 Gilmore Avenue.
The International Sausage House Ltd. claims to have a right of first refusal to purchase the property. It also asserts that it has extended its lease until 2017.
Millennium had applied for a declaration contrary to the meat company’s claims. However, the judge ruled that these cannot be decided through summary trial.
“There are related claims and counterclaims for breach of contract, misrepresentation, conspiracy and interference with contractual relations, as well as various estoppel claims by the parties,” Kelleher wrote in his 18-page decision.
The ownership of 1846 Gilmore Avenue is also quite complex.
The property originally belonged to Henry Eustergerling, Leon Hammer, and Rudolph Gutfreund. They also operated what was then known as the International Sausage Co. Ltd. Hammer died in 1983, and his widow, Lola, was made executor of his estate.
In 1997, the sausage company entered into a formal lease with Eustergerling, Gutfreund, and Hammer’s widow as landlords. The sausage business was sold in August 1988 to Piotr Karwowski and a partner. Karwowski is the current sole owner of the venture that has been renamed the International Sausage House Ltd.
In 2006, Eustergerling sold his interest in 1846 Gilmore Avenue to Karwowski’s parents, Janusz and Kazimiera. Shahram Malekyazdi, a director and one of two brothers behind Millennium, learned in 2011 that 1876 and 1904 Gilmore Avenue, which are adjacent to the sausage factory and deli, were available for sale. He subsequently instructed real-estate broker Robert Greer to see if there was any interest to sell 1846 Gilmore Avenue.
What followed were events now subject to conflicting evidence, which Kelleher noted should be adjudicated through a full trial.
One event was an October 2011 meeting attended by Greer, Piotr Karwowski, Charl Hammer (an executor of the Hammer estate), and Gutfreund. Karwowski deposed that he attended the meeting on behalf of the tenant, which is the sausage business he owns, and his parents, who own a third of 1846 Gilmore Avenue.
Karwowski claimed that during the meeting, the lease was verbally renewed until June 30, 2017, which is one of the things in dispute. To complicate things, the sausage factory filed a caveat against the title of the property in November 2012.
There was also a meeting that happened in July 2012 that had Malekyazdi, Greer, and Karwowski in attendance. “Again, there is considerable controversy about what transpired at this meeting,” Kelleher noted in his decision.
For one, Malekyazdi deposed that Karwowski described himself as an “opportunist” and that “that is how he [Karwowski] had been successful to date”.
“He also deposed that Mr. Karwowski told him that ISH’s days in that current location were numbered due to environmental issues, and that Mr. Karwowski said ‘I pollute like a fish’,” Kelleher related. “He suggested that Millennium should try and make a deal with the 2/3 owners first and then come back to him.”
According to Kelleher’s account of claims in affidavits submitted to him, Karwowski “denies saying that he pollutes like a fish or that he described himself as an opportunist”.
Kelleher ended his reasons for judgment by writing that the matter “is scheduled for trial on January 26, 2015.…In all the circumstances of this case, that is where these issues should be determined.”