News

Landlord wants to force Cafe Arizona out

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

The landlord for Center Plaza in Federal Way has filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court to evict Café Arizona, citing a history of violent and unruly behavior at the night club that has led to a drain on police services and injuries to club patrons.

Cratsenberg Properties, which owns the building in which Café Arizona has been operating since it opened in 1994, filed the lawsuit March 20. The eviction hearing was heard last Friday.

Cratsenberg alleges Café Arizona breached the conditions of the lease agreement by creating a nuisance, allowing dancing, failing to operate six days a week and causing waste on the leased premises.

The Mirror was unable to contact representatives of Café Arizona for comment.

Andrew Cratsenberg Jr., the attorney representing Cratsenberg Properties, cited four shooting incidents at or near the night club and involving night club patrons or staff in the past six months as evidence Café Arizona is a nuisance to Center Plaza.

The suit alleges a history of violent or illegal activity at the night club, including a riot, numerous assaults and fights, a reported rape of a 17-year-old girl who had gained admission to the club and was allegedly served alcohol there, and obstruction of police investigations by Café Arizona staff.

Police have arrested club patrons for drugs, theft, disorderly conduct and felony possession of firearms, attorneys for Cratsenberg Properties alleged in the suit, saying, “Café Arizona is a magnet for violence and generates three times more criminal complaints than any other licensed liquor establishment in the community.”

Last November, police responded to a shooting in the Café Arizona parking lot that occurred about 10 minutes before the club closed. Police said the victim was lying on the ground with a single gunshot wound to the chest. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in serious condition.

In December, police responded to a report of gunshots fired near the Denny’s Restaurant. Officers found a victim in his car with a gunshot wound to the upper right part of his back and an exit wound under his left arm.

The man said he was leaving Café Arizona and driving through the parking lot near Denny’s to get on South 320th Street when he was shot, according to police. He was taken to Harborview for treatment.

Last January, police responded to another shooting after two men argued at the night club.

After the men initially began arguing, a Café Arizona security guard escorted the man identified as the aggressor out of the club. He apparently re-entered and continued the argument. Club security escorted him out again.

When the other man in the altercation left the club about 2 a.m., the purported aggressor shot him. An armed security guard employed by Café Arizona then shot the aggressor. Both men were taken to Harborview with multiple gunshot wounds.

The next day, Cratsenberg Properties’ insurance agent, Tom Trigg, issued a letter saying the insurance company was concerned about the number of shooting incidents at Center Plaza and the latest one would be cause for the company to cancel Cratsenberg Properties liability policy for the plaza, according to the lawsuit.

“In addition, Mr. Trigg believes that liability insurance for Center Plaza would be impossible to secure at any price as long as Café Arizona remains as a tenant,” the lawsuit states. “With Café Arizona as a tenant, Center Plaza is uninsurable.”

Cratsenberg also alleges activity at Café Arizona has affected neighboring businesses, particularly the Denny’s and the 24-hour Starbucks. Workers at both businesses said they have witnessed fights and disorderly conduct in the parking lot.

In addition to the eviction, Cratsenberg Properties is asking for money to restore the premises to the original condition, for twice the amount of damages proven at the time of trial, for twice the $10,740.66 monthly rent for the time Café Arizona unlawfully remains on the premises, for waste on the premises, for consequential damages and for legal fees.

Staff writer Erica Jahn: 925-5565, ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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