County Agrees To Liquor Store Sublease Proposal

SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners agreed this week to accept a sublease proposal for the county’s 16th Street liquor store.

The commissioners, proceeding with plans to extricate the county from the liquor business, voted 6-0 to accept a proposal from Richard (Dicky) Smith Jr. to lease the 16th Street store. Smith’s bid was the only one received for the 4,300-square-foot store.

“He would be leasing both portions of the store and be leasing through the termination date of our lease which is Feb. 28, 2024,” said Maureen Howarth, the county’s attorney.

In subleasing the Worcester County Shore Spirits store on 16th Street, Smith will take over the $6,742 monthly lease payment and will pay an additional $1 per month and buy the store’s inventory (worth roughly $259,000) with a 10-percent markup.

Though Smith did bid to sublease the liquor store, he told the county he actually planned to partner with Azezeh Ramadan of the Village Market on 18th Street. Ramadan has been running the beer and wine store since 1999. She and Smith plan to upgrade the shop’s license to one that allows for the sale of beer, wine and liquor and then move the inventory of the 16th Street store there.

“Mr. Smith is further proposing to negotiate with our landlord at 16th Street to buy out the remaining seven years and two months on our current lease agreement …,”a report from the Department of Liquor Control Management Committee reads.

Howarth said that if that failed, Smith planned to sublease the space to offset his expenses.

“Either way the county is covered,” she said.

Smith has provided the county with a bank letter of credit in the amount of $161,808 (two-years-worth of lease payments).

“We believe that the Irrevocable Letter of Credit will provide substantial incentive for Mr. Smith to honor the terms of the agreement through Feb. 28, 2024,” the committee report reads, “however if he was to default the county would have 24 months of lease payments covered and could attempt to sublease the space in compliance with our current lease agreement in order to offset the remaining lease obligations.”

Howarth said committee members had carefully reviewed Smith’s proposal and recommended accepting it. She said the committee planned to turn the store over to Smith in January after the sale of the Gold Coast Mall liquor store’s inventory. The county will sell that store’s inventory to GCBW Inc. for $300,000.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.