Docks, known during the planning stages as Just Under the Sky, was opened in 2016 and sold last year to a Canadian investment fund. It stands on the banks of the Brussels-Willebroek canal by the Van Praet bridge. The management of Docks, Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL), have applied to the court to have White Cinema evicted, claiming White has failed to pay the commission due to Docks.
White argues that it has paid, and accuses Docks of trying to force them out in order to take over the infrastructure White invested in, without having to pay for it. White is also asking for the commission paid to Docks to be reduced from 278,000 euros a year to only 78,000 euros.
The manager of White, Jérôme De Bethune, admitted to Bruzz that the payment had been late, but that the full amount due had been handed over.
“We invested more than seven million euros,” he said. “By pretending we did not pay, they are trying to take over that infrastructure for free.”
At the same time, White is looking to get out of the contract signed by both parties in 2016, but without penalty. Because, White claims, they were misled when approached to form part of Docks. At that time, De Bethune said, they were assured the centre “would attract a massive public”.
According to figures from JLL, Docks attracted five million visitors in its first year, and that figure grew by 8.8% in the second year. However the company only gives out a headline figure, which is additionally not audited by an independent source such as the retail agency Atrium, Bruzz points out.
“It quickly became clear that the passages remained empty and the car parks deserted,” said Julie De Bonnet, counsel for White, in business daily L’Echo. “The shopping centre did not meet expectations.”
A decision is expected in about a month.