CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – American Eagle Outfitters filed a countersuit on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, after being accused of terminating its leasing agreement by New York-based Spinoso Real Estate Group when announcing a “temporary closure” of its Northlake Mall location.

If the clothing retail store were to close permanently, it would be the third store known to do so at the mall in 2023.

“That’s brutal,” said Bud Miller, a shopper. “I never really like to see a store, whether it be a mom-and-pop or a corporation, just close like that.”

AEO’s counterclaims immediately referred to ongoing violence at the mall, quoting:

“Spinoso allowed the shopping center — Northlake Mall — to deteriorate into an atmosphere reminiscent of a warzone, replete with violent criminals, multiple shootings, terrorized tenants and customers, and diminished business.”

Northlake Mall saw three shootings within three months, from December 2022 to February 2023 (see bottom of article for more context, notable closures). Due to those shootings, AEO says their employees and customers felt unsafe at the mall.

Spinoso Real Estate Group, which manages dozens of malls and shopping centers nationwide, sued AEO first, claiming:

“American Eagle failed to operate continuously its business at Northlake Mall and, as such, is in breach of its lease agreement.”

The mall says AEO shut down in April while its lease was still active.

“It’s not surprising at all,” said Josiah Dandy, who works near the mall. “After the first store left, it was a little bit. But the more stuff that happened, they all started leaving one after another.”

Additionally, Spinoso’s suit claims AEO’s lease termination resulted in fewer customers visiting the shopping center, other retailers’ businesses suffering (resulting in some tenants ceasing operations), and the rent/value of the complex decreasing.

On the other hand, AEO’s counterclaim states the mall’s “Youth Supervision Policy,” which ensures all shoppers 17 and under are accompanied by an adult over 21 at all times after 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, ‘diminished AEO Retail’s sales.’

“If my target audience is aged 17 years and under, and you’ve created this plan that stops 17 years and under from shopping in the mall,” said QCN Chief Legal Analyst Khalif Rhodes. “Now you’ve interrupted my ability to operate my business like I want to.”

The real estate group wants AEO to pay the rest of its leasing term. It claims the store exceeded $75,000 in damages, while AEO seeks at least $75,000 for breach of contract, interference with prospective business, and deceptive trade practices, among other claims.

“I’m really hoping the mall keeps going because even though we’re in a technological age, I do like the real-life, hand-to-hand interaction with the storekeepers,” Miller said.

Notable Closures

The mall’s Apple store closed on March 1, and Buckle, a retailer known for its casual apparel, footwear, and accessories, shut its doors on March 26.

While Apple claimed their announcement came “in preparation for a new store to open in the Charlotte area early next year,” Buckle did not specify its reasoning for the decision.

Northlake Mall had its third shooting in three months on Tuesday, Feb. 28, a day before the Apple store officially closed.

The first shooting came inside the mall in December 2022 when two people were injured. The second happened in early February, where no one was shot, but two people were taken to the hospital for non-shooting-related injuries.