Glendale Armenian School Owner And Armenian Landlord Battle Eviction


2009/08/0 4 | 17:18


Today’s edition of the Glendale News Press reports on an on-going
and somewhat nasty court battle between the principal of a local
Armenian day school and the Armenian landlord of the propert over
rent and other issues that have threatened the school’s future
operation. Here’s the article:

The owner of Scholars Armenian School and Arts Center on Monday said
she was confident that a bankruptcy trial would not affect the campus
after she made good on a $123,000 payment to avoid eviction.

She owed the money for unpaid rent since declaring bankruptcy in May
after failing to make other rent payments.

Still, Scholars Principal and owner Anahit Grigoryan has continued
to refuse paying nearly $200,000 in rent after funding a cleanup of
toxic mold and asbestos, which should have been the responsibility
of landlord Alex Kuiumdjian, she said.

Kuiumdjian’s attorney, Frank Rubin, argues that Grigoryan made
expensive property changes without first asking the landlord, who
would have done it on his own, making her responsible for the rent.

Rubin added that Grigoryan didn’t bring up the mold until she was
already in debt, a charge she denies.

"It was all after rent was due," Rubin said.

Grigoryan has filed a separate lawsuit to resolve the issue, alleging
that Kuiumdjian had rented the property after falsely claiming it
was free of hazardous materials, specifically mold, according to the
lease agreement and court documents.

She was confident that the school would continue uninterrupted,
regardless of the court proceedings.

"I’m not a lawyer, but I do know the law," said Grigoryan, a former
professor at UCLA and universities in Russia and Armenia.

She had already invested more than $500,000 into the property at 1021
Grandview Ave. before discovering the mold while venturing into the
basement, making a move from the site unreasonable, she said.

Grigoryan has insisted that Kuiumdjian gave her license to "do whatever
you want" while making facility improvements.

Additionally, the potential of mold in the basement, she said, could
have presented a danger to her students, whom she did not notify
of the problem because the school was closed when it was discovered
and cleared.

When Grigoryan proceeded to contract the cleanup work herself, workers
discovered asbestos and embarked on a sweeping effort to remove the
dangerous matter before students returned.

The cleanup added to her makeover of the building, which cost more
than $1.5 million, she said.

Rubin argued that the basement was not within the parameters of
Grigoryan’s lease and that she should not have moved into the area
and made changes without permission.

The 45,000-square-foot site now includes hardwood floors, accent walls
and modern school equipment, while also being a healthy environment,
she said.

Some worried parents, after hearing about the school’s debt, have
withdrawn plans to send their children there in the fall, but Scholars
has never been in serious danger of closing, she said.

Grigoryan has been able to keep her operation growing using funds
from colleagues in Armenia, she said.

Her move to declare bankruptcy was mostly a maneuver to stay an
eviction notice that had been levied after a civil court ruled
Grigoryan was responsible for six months of unpaid rent, despite the
continuing fraud suit, she said.

The school now expects to have about 230 students in the fall, down
from 250, and will be able to pay the $44,000 monthly rent, despite
tuition revenues of $72,000 that are weighed down by a $69,000 monthly
payroll, Grigoryan said.

The sheer value of Scholars’ current expenses means that it will
continue to be dependent on Armenian contributors for support as it
works to become a standout institution, she said.