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Salvo Art Is Evicted in Dispute With Nature Scapes, Rendering Vanguard Gallery’s Artists Homeless

| December 14, 2016

Salvo Art Project's 6,000 square-foot home at Nature Scapes in Bunnell. The art gallery's days there may be numbered. (c FlaglerLive)

Salvo Art Project’s 6,000 square-foot home at Nature Scapes in Bunnell. The art gallery’s days there may be numbered. (c FlaglerLive)

Salvo Art Project, the sought-after and vibrant art gallery and stable of artist studios, has been evicted from its home of two years at Nature Scapes in Bunnell by the owners of the nursery. Co-owners JJ Graham and Petra Iston, along with their artists, are to be out of the building by Jan. 7.

The eviction is the result of nearly two years of unsettled relations between Salvo co-owner JJ Graham and Nature Scapes co-owners Richard and Chris Baiata. Disagreements escalated to recriminations and an eviction notice in early November. A court hearing was scheduled before County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens this morning. But Graham and Chris Baiata, with their respective attorneys, agreed to the separation after two hours of mediation behind closed doors, making the hearing moot.

Graham emerged from the mediation despondent but with little choice, as the lease he’d signed with the late Mary Lou Baiata two years ago, just before she died, proved less than written in stone: Baiata had signed it as the property’s landlord rather than as a trustee of the estate, a technicality that gave her surviving sons room to declare the document unenforceable. But the technicality was mostly a pretext: conflicts between Graham and the Baiatas began almost immediately after Mary Lou’s death, and the past two years have taken such a financial and psychological toll on Graham that he did not see the benefit of risking a prolonged and expensive court fight.

“The thing that bothers me the most is we got so much support, so much energy, and there’s a part of me that hopes we didn’t let people down,” Graham said after the mediation, citing the successful fund-raising that had enabled him to improve the gallery, including the installation of a $10,000 air conditioning system. But he knew his days there were numbered. He didn’t know the end would be so nearly sudden. “I was hoping I could go to my studio artists and say we had until February. Now we have to move out over the holidays.. We have had some really good times there, we’ve done some really good things. I think the saddest thing is it didn’t have to be this way.”

salvo art project

The gallery’s interiors. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Graham says he has no intention of leaving the county, and he has some options, most notably the very real possibility of a potential arts center in the making on 10 acres at the corner of Belle Terre Parkway and U.S. 1 owned by Thea Mathen, the Bunnell business owner and one of the county’s most generous arts patrons. But, Mathen notes, it could be a long time before she can build there, if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gets involved: there are some wetlands on the property, which would require regulatory delays.

“It’s going to be a long time before mine is ready,” Mathen said. But it’s in the works. “Landon already knows about the project, all the staff knows about it, most of the city council knows about it,” she said, referring to City Manager Jim Landon. Holland, a Salvo supporter, has also been involved in conversations to find it a new home.

“It’s beautiful, the county needs more of this,” Mathen said of Salvo. “I feel like we’re missing the boat on art. How many years ago was the Atlantic Center for the arts created, barely with anything? And look what it’s grown to. Obviously there’s a need.”

Still, it’s unlikely that Graham will find an immediate landing place,  though there’s also a possibility at City Centre in Town Center, in a building next to the Flagler Playhouse in Bunnell, and this morning he was suggesting looking at the large building formerly occupied by Sevyn, the short-lived nightclub near the corner of State Road 100 and Belle Terre Parkway. Failing all that, he says he’s ready for a break. But he feels the pull of what amounts to a legacy still in the making. Chris Baiata did not return a message left at Nature Scape Wednesday afternoon.

It was with joyous fanfare that two years ago, Graham moved his art gallery from the strip-mall-like sterility of City Market Place in Palm Coast to the more loft-like and artsy grounds of Nature Scapes, off Bunnell’s Old Brick Road. What had been known as Hollingsworth Gallery became the Salvo Art Project in a 6,000-square-foot brick building with 25-foot ceilings and plenty of room for studios, exhibition and performance spaces, and an atmosphere of artistic edge unique in the county. 

salvo fyo

JJ Graham spoke to musicians of the Flagler Youth Orchestra and their audience during a fund-raising event at Salvo Art Project earlier this month. Click on the image for larger view.
(© FlaglerLive)

Despite its out-of-the-way location Salvo managed to do what it had done at City Market Place: transform a moribund space—the building had sat empty for years—into a hothouse of creativity and acting like a magnet for other arts groups. At City Market Place, the Flagler County Art League soon rented two storefronts not far from Hollingsworth and joined in the monthly art-show schedule, developing along with Hollingsworth. After Salvo, artists Weldon and Richlin Ryan, who’d had a studio at Salvo, opened their own gallery and started their own shows at Calypso Art a brief walking distance from Salvo, at Marvin Garden. Salvo itself quickly grew into its own, carving out a half-dozen studios to local artists, launching new shows with well-attended, jazzy openings. Salvo hosted live music performances, art classes with a loyal following, even business and political gatherings: it was the place to be for Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland’s victory party, as it will also be for a private retirement party organized for Gail Wadsworth, the Clerk of Court, on Friday. 

Graham had made the arrangements for his new digs with long-time Nature Scapes owner Mary Lou Baiata, who’d dreamed of transforming parts of her property into an artist colony. “It’s a match made in heaven,” Baiata had told FlaglerLive in June 2014. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long, long time. We’re going to collaborate with events, art, nature, plants, everything. It’s not going to be like anything else anybody else is doing in this doing in the state. A full-on art, nature community.”

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Baiata and Graham signed a 10-year lease on July 1, 2014. Baiata died 25 days later of cancer. Her son Chris assumed ownership of the grounds with his brother Richard and became Graham’s landlord. 

The relationship between Salvo and Nature Scapes quickly soured after that, becoming what neither Baiata nor Graham had signed up for: there were disputes over rent, over the uses of the space, over building additional studios in violation of Bunnell building codes, over the sort of events held at Salvo, over parking, grounds-keeping, allegations of cigarette butts and beer bottles (groundless, Graham says), and butting in: Richard Baiata was incensed by the Holland victory party, Graham said, saying political events were not part of the deal there, with Graham saying his use of the building to that purpose was his business. It was the next morning that the Baiatas slapped him with the eviction notice.

This morning, Chris Baiata and Graham, who had essentially stopped speaking, were sitting at opposite ends of courtroom benches, awaiting mediation, after Baiata formalized the eviction notice into a court action on Nov. 15. The immediate cause: past-due rent of $2,500, a sum Graham says he was intentionally holding back over other disputes with Baiata. 

He was lowballing the amount owed considerably: the stipulation agreement he signed on Wednesday shows him agreeing to pay $10,250 in back rent (and $240 in court costs)–but only if he did not vacate the premises by Jan. 7, his lawyer said.

In September, Matthew Bothwell, the attorney the Baiatas had hired, wrote Graham to warn him of an alleged breach of lease and default, and intimated that Mary Lou Baiata had signed the lease under duress: Baiata, he said, was “taking powerful pain killers and various other medication,” but that “even if the lease were found to be valid,” Graham had violated its terms by building second-level structures inside the building without the proper permit from Bunnell. Graham, who kept copious documentation, acknowledged that he’d not initially pulled a permit, but also that Bunnell signed off on the construction on October 15 (he showed the proof).

What Graham didn’t know is that he had himself played a role in undermining the legitimacy of his own lease. The lease had called for him paying $1,500 a month in rent the first year—but only starting six months after the installation of an air conditioning system, at his expense. Theoretically, he could have spent many months or years rent-free at the facility, absent an air conditioning unit. But without one, work in the building was unbearable. Graham says he started paying rent in January 2015, just three months into his stay at Salvo and long before the AC unit was installed, and increased rent payments to $2,000, then $2,500, before he had to (the lease calls for a gradual increase), for a total of $43,000 in rent payments before he finally decided to withhold rent over the latest disputes.

Why make the rent payments ahead of time to start with? Graham calls it “an act of good faith.”

“I thought our fate was intertwined and our relationship would improve,” Graham says. It did not. Chris Baiata had told him that “I was not an asset, I was an encumbrance on the property,” according to Graham, and he resented the fact that the lease included a right of first-refusal for Graham, if the property was up for sale.

The property is up for sale, and the Baiatas, Graham says, have desperately wanted that provision out of the lease to make a sale easier. They also use images of the interiors of Salvo to market the property, an irony that rankles Graham, who says they never got permission to use his interiors’ images. Finally, there was also an issue over insurance, which Graham says was—according to his broker—in line with the lease, and which the Baiatas say was not. (In a brief interview on Dec. 16, Joel Rosen of A.J. Enterprises, Graham’s insurance broker, confirmed that the insurance was in order. “We sent proof og insurance time and time again,” Rosen said. “It complied completely with what was in the lease.”]

At this point those are the details of a dispute that, as such disputes go, can quickly become intractable the moment a conflict beyond the documents is unresolved. And between Graham and the Baiatas, conflict began soon after Mary Lou’s death: her vision had meshed with Graham’s. But their signature was not on his lease. None of that changes today’s outcome—the settlement that results in Salvo’s eviction.

Graham’s most immediate concern late this morning was how to break the news to Iston, his partner, who had been teaching most of the morning and so had missed the mediation. “We both rolled up our sleeves and got to work, so it’s heartbreaking to her,” he said. “I’ll just have to figure out how to rise out of the ashes.”

It wouldn’t be the first time.

32 Responses for “Salvo Art Is Evicted in Dispute With Nature Scapes, Rendering Vanguard Gallery’s Artists Homeless”

  1. Terri Reddington says:

    I am grateful for what JJ and Petra have done for our art community. The past two years have been exciting, fun, entertaining and wonderful! I hope everyone that has been a part of Salvo will continue to support and be there for JJ and Petra! Love you both!

  2. denise calderwood says:

    So sorry to hear about Salvo Art Gallery but they arent the only ones getting evicted! Mayor Holland hopefully you are aware that all of the groups that use the Palm Coast Community Center were informed that the center is closing down at the end of this month. Where are they to go? Not at city hall since they dont have staff to stay late into the evening. And where are the gardeners going after twenty some years? Palm Coast has a dearth of facilities so lets try and do something about it! JJ and his partner have achieved great things why not give them a Brownfield property to transform into something spectacular? Afterall the city made arrangements to find a home for the Bridge Club and for Palm Coasts own Rowing Club- yes I said rowing in addition to golf, tennis and the Art Foundation. However Salvo is a for profit business so why not ask Helga and Matt our prized county staff to assist. Goia Sales building will work- for three years it housed the Flagler Teen Center Collaborative or better yet how about the first hospital in town it sits on 12 city blocks and has been boarded up for 35 years! Bunnell would be ripe grounds for such a project and it is the County seat! The Sevyn building rents for $7500 a month so it is too pricey for such a venture unless of course there is an Arts benefactor out there. The senior groups have been all over looking for affordable space in all of Flagler County and havent come up with anything except for the two story old jail located across from the government center but that is slated for demolition. All this leads to Flagler County having a need to formulate an ECHO program like Volusia County has so lets start taking action and do something…..It is way past time to do so!

  3. denise calderwood says:

    I forgot to mention the possible use of the Florida Agricultural Museum since the county is now a clear partner in that venture! Arts, nature, tourism and main streets all complement each other and our economic engines if properly supported. And schools too, the Flagler School system is one of the largest land owners in town and they arebnow renting to the Bridge Club

  4. MC says:

    What would your mom have wanted to see? Work together and find a solution, I think it’s worth it… JS

  5. Rachel Thompson says:

    JJ Graham & Petra Iston worked their magic to create a stimulating and evocative venue at Hollingsworth and SALVO. Both gallery/studios became destinations that provoked us to grow in artistic understanding. Whether you are a student, a teacher, a collector or music buff, all have been satiated in these unique environments. My greatest hope for JJ & Petra at this juncture is that they can have a stable environment to invest themselves in and from, sans landlord. Thank you both for all that you have sown into this community. More than that, thank you for baring your creative souls.

  6. Danae. says:

    It’s hard to get evicted from a commercial space for no reason at all, feel free to read the public documentation regarding his eviction. Neither Marylou or Mario Baiata, the Founders of this family owned business, would have stood for one ounce of this. Cry me a river JJ, no one gets evicted for nothing. 🌬

  7. Greg Feldman says:

    So very sorry to read of the impending closure of Salvo Art in it’s current form. I have been privileged to attend numerous events at the gallery. Always a classy and enjoyable event. I wish JJ and Petra much success and where they land, I will attend!!

  8. Lois Rowman says:

    It’s unfortunate that the original vision for this collaboration did not work out. However, the story unfairly portrays the owners as villains and JJ as innocent. The illegal construction could have cost people’s lives – similar to what just happened at an artist workspace in Oakland, California, where 36 people died because of faulty unpermitted construction. And with minimal insurance, how would anyone be compensated if something did happen? And how many months should the owners go without receiving rent payments? Salvo is a for profit entity, and should be paying its way like every other business in town, instead of pawning off its liabilities and obligations on the landlord.

  9. Kerri says:

    Chris should not have to answer such a question……He knows in his heart what his mom is still creating in our earthly realm………………… you should be ashamed of yourself for presenting such a question……perhaps you will understand through death and suffering one day………………..Let your turmoil rest…….and allow their family to be

  10. Diana Minotti says:

    I believe Board of Education property prohibits alcohol at any events which would be a hard sell for Art Openings without Wine and Cheese.

  11. Richard Smith says:

    “so let’s start taking action and DO something”. Sure sounds like Flagler county administration could use a person like Trump to get this county back on track. Too many politicians these days collecting a huge salary for doing nothing. It’s time to get people in government jobs at ALL levels who are committed to the people that elected them versus being so self-serving.

  12. palmcoaster says:

    What is this news that they are closing our Community Center in the corner of Palm Coast Parkway and Club House Drive by the end of this month…and what is the city planning for it and why we all surrounding residential owners were not properly notified by City Council, Mayor and Manager those plans are..? This is a very strategically located community center and we do not want it to be moved to Town Center to benefit the developer there and funded by our taxpayers funds!! We need our community center right here in the center of Palm Coast and not in Town Center 10 miles away!
    We all residents all Palm Harbor residents better get involved and find out!

  13. Flagler Citizen says:

    Wow! I didn’t know they really existed save for some mentions. What a time. A challenging time–yet it could be a big opportunity to be more present in the community. If they can launch at Town Center, that could be a boon to their recognition. Good luck to them moving forward. I hope they can find new opportunities in this debacle.

  14. LFJ says:

    Why didn’t JJ and Petra and the Salvo art community pay the rent and follow the building permit compliance? We are all so devastated to have been duped into trusting the integrity of the community’s progress of expansion over the past couple years. We could have all chipped in to help pay the rent if Petra and JJ were having such financial hardships, we are a community and could support each other with monetary donations. Three months of rent unpaid, how? Pats on the back and facebook likes only go so far. I know that myself and my partner would have been more than willing to donate time to help organize the proper documentation needed for build out plans in pursuance of permits. Why wasn’t this done from the beginning and why are we all just learning of this now? We’d attended many fundraiser events, where did the money actually go? Our daughter frequented this location as well, and she is currently mourning the loss of a friend who died in the Oakland, Ca artist warehouse fire. When is the art community going to take responsibility, we want this to happen but we don’t want to pay for it, donate administrative time for it, or accept we are not above the complicated and long drawn out processes needed in order to do things the right way as to make sure longevity is a viable possibility. so many artist warehouse spaces are closed down time and time again, when will we just suck it up and learn. my family and I are so disheartened to learn of this outcome. I think as a community, we all are. Does anyone know what the reason behind the noncompliance was? Why put us all at risk for failure. it’s a shame. I met Mary Lou and her husband when we first moved to Florida, as my partner and I purchased a Red Carpet Construction Home in Palm Coast, FL and it was landscaped by Nature Scapes, at the time the business was set up in a different location.
    Who was the builder who moved forward with non-permitted structures? And again, why were we not informed as a community that the financial status was so dire it would put us all out of this lovely location. tsk tsk artists. Those in the know who did nothing, tsk tsk. Where to next?

  15. DaveT says:

    When I see stuff like this, I look back at the old ITT building that was considered useless by Palm Coast. . That building could have been so much more, instead look where it went.

  16. Barbara Joy Mullen says:

    Thank you Denise Calderwood for bringing to light several possible alternatives for the Salvo Art Gallery and the Palm Coast Community Center. It is important that County Governance recognizes and supports the contributions these organizations provide to the quality of life of our beautiful Flagler County, and does all it can to ensure they both survive and thrive.

    As for the Salvo Art Gallery fiasco, I am appalled that the Biata brothers are not upholding their mother’s vision; it seems to me it is just another example of the all-too-common scenario of greedy family members scurrying to claim their “fortune” after the matriarch passes, to Hades with the good that she has done. For shame.

  17. The real MC says:

    Pretty one-sided article. Ever hear of objective journalism? Getting quotes from both sides? The City of Bunnell was ready to shut things down because of code violations in the artists’ studio…what business wants that from their tenant?

    • FlaglerLive says:

      We called and left a message to speak with Chris well before the article appeared, explicitly asking for his perspective. He never replied. Still hasn’t. As stated in the article, Bunnell signed off on the construction in mid-October.

  18. Lois Rowman says:

    Barbara – Your comments regarding Marylou’s sons not “upholding their mother’s vision” are ill-informed and hurtful. They are NOT greedy family members scurrying to claim their fortune! Marylou had a vision, but she was no pushover. JJ should have adhered to the terms of the lease, not endangered innocent lives, and paid his bills. Clearly you didn’t read the court documents to learn the real facts. JJ may have Flagler Live and half the community conned into thinking he is incapable of any wrong-doing, but the facts don’t bear that theory out. Marylou took responsibility for herself and her business and expected the same of everyone – her sons and JJ. Shame on JJ for not upholding Marylou’s vision!

  19. JJ Graham says:

    We paid our rent on time up until the eviction notice. Yes we did make a mistake on a build but we called the inspector before they did , and he got us back on track. It’s never been open to the public, and we were told we were allowed to use it as an attic storage. Our permit is on the door right now. We have awesome architectul plans that unfortunately we will never use, as well as structural engineering plans that cost us going to waste. FlaglerLive looked at our lease and the check stubs. We more than met the obligations of our lease and I will submit all of it all of this to FlaglerLive to publish if they likes. As well as the emails that proves they tried to break our lease from the beginning. It’s ok It’s their place we’ll be out on the 7th of January. I’m pretty sure we’ve brought so much attention to the space it won’t be on the market for six years again. Look at the end of the day this affects our community of artists and Patrons as well as them, thieir families and friends. Breakups are messy but somehow I’m still friends with all my ex’s on Facebook. I definitely have grown from this experience. I hope Chris will to. I’m going to go out on limb for Marilou’s sake and say I’m going to work on myself to forgive Chris, if he can do the same for me. We are probably never going to agree but I l can live with the fact that his people love him and our people love us and some of them love us both.We just aren’t meant to be in the same garden. It’s unfair to Chris for me to require him to have the same vision his mother had. He wants his on canvas. We’ll be fine folks.

  20. accettazione says:

    This is an interesting story and an interesting complaint. I don’t think any tenant can expect to stay in a location without paying rent for three months. And, it seems strange that the same tenant was collecting rent from sub leasers (artists) at the same time and not always providing receipts.

    In fact, JJ went after Dec rent the day before the hearing, even driving to the home of an artist three times. Also, why would someone who takes copies notes and complies lots of documentation forget to review with for 2015 and have to be reinstated in 2016.

    MaryLou would have been even more aggressive than her sons. She would not put up with JJ not paying rent and not having the proper insurance.

  21. W.Ryan says:

    People…Here we are taking sides and distributing blame. Why? Permits not withstanding, what does it take to put up a simply constructed rectangle ( studs every 16 inches) with the base plate to the floor in 90 degree angle to the floor. Permits are partially for city revenue and marginally for safety. Ask the Mormons and the Amish people or go back in our recent history. So no comparison to other places please. At the end it was approved because it was done right. I also cannot see in the hearts of men to blast them for things not known in their hearts. What I do know is that this is a terrible blow to the Arts Community in Flagler County and for JJ and Petra for their vision of what art is and should be in this county and for the artists that strife to work there. First off I’ve been along for the ride with JJ since City Walk ( now City Market Place). JJ has always had a following and some buyers but where are the art buyers and art collectors. This wasn’t a profit thing but things would be great if the artist community was supported by people who support financially a fledgling industry that keep getting wacked by factors beyond our control (City Market Place could have been the infusion to PC if purchased by the City. It was the steal of the century). Now we have artist who incidentally support their art habits with little financial reward that have no place to create. It’s either artist have a space to paint but no funds to create or have a place to create but don’t have the fund for supplies to create. It’s our ugly reality. It may seem like I’m lashing out but lets look at the many factors that has led to this and give the artist community some help. Funding for art is minimal, we have very little help from our local Governments and we have little financial help to sustain a livelihood and/or create a much needed industry. What Salvo is is a defibrillator for a culturally lackluster community. Find Salvo and the artists that work there a new home.

  22. accettazione says:

    Rent was due Nov 1. Eviction notice was Nov 15 after the Nov rent was not paid.

  23. accettazione says:

    October Rent was not paid, the Nov rent went unpaid.

    The Nov 15 eviction notice came out after two months of rent were due and were not paid. According to the Landlord/Tenant Stipulation, rent was not paid for Oct/Nov/Dec.

    These are the facts.

  24. JJ Graham says:

    I will send Flaglerlive the notices sent to us stating that they were proceeding with an eviction and when they were sent, and the letter that was posted on my door. As far as our artists are concerned we still have utility bils insurance and things that are shared expenses. The artists you speak of informed me that she was sick and asked me to come by. She was also informed that we had a court hearing the next day and that they were trying to evict us. If she is unhappy I will be happy to riemberse her. I went to the court with a 5,000.00 check ( 2months rent) to let the court system hold if our issue was not resolved. Because I was holding a lease that was not valid because it was not signed properly I was not advised to appear before the judge and because of that the rent is not owed. We are leaving an HVAC unit that we raised money for on their property. As well as all the materials we invested because now we have no use for them. They have been given enough. Our artists still have the month of December to work and I’m hoping they will before we have to break up the band for a bit and invest in a new space. We will be out by January 7th. No rent will be collected for that month. If I have ever been irresponsible with my rent to Naturescapes before being informed of an eviction, please enlighten me to when that was. I would never drive to an artists house to collect rent without them calling and asking me too. And they all knew the situation except the one your referring to, because she had been away from her studio. I will not allow Petra or I to be smeared in this way. All of our artists have witnessed the constructive eviction that has been taking place long before the notice was placed on our door. It’s heavily documented. I have refrained from making it public for two years. Naturescapes made our drama public by taking us to a public court. Before that I never said a thing on public media or social.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Oh JJ my friend, my talented, generous friend, let me extend a hand to you as you did to City Repertory Theatre to get us started. We do not have a lot of space in Suites B207, B 206 at City Market Place but use CRT as you need until a new venue opens for you, and it surely will. You and Petra have done nothing but become the heart and soul of the arts community in Flagler. Your generosity to all of us in forms too plentiful to count, has been the bedrock of our search to explore, investigate, understand the world we inhabit. You walked out to the edge of the limb and like the protagonists of your’s and Richard’s paintings dared the world to try to bounce you off. All of us owe you a debt. You exemplified the courage and vision of the artist pursuing a vision, never ever getting there but striving to reach it all the same. It is a romantic quest. Many can’t or won’t understand it., but those of us who try to, applaud you. So, come share our space, sip some wine and regenerate the energy to start again….because we have to.

  26. GAWKER says:

    Looking at the lease under Rental section it clearly states that HVAC system will be installed at tenants expense in exchange for landlord not obligating tenant to pay six months rent from the time HVAC is installed and functioning NOT at begining of lease unless HVAC system was installed at that point and working this is not made clear. It also states that rent is due the 10th of the month tenant takes possession of property at $1,000 which looks to be July 2014 and that every July rent goes up $500 it states premises are over 6,000 sq ft, What a bargin! The lease also states premises may only be used for art or art sales in the article a polictical function is being mentioned as held on the premises? Also, mentioned in the lease water, internet, phone and property takes are included in rent which from this article the tenant did not pay the first six months or the last three-how can this tennant be so victimized and how can the landlord be so dumb to allow this tenant to remain on premises for years? Stop your belly aching freeloading tennant just from this article you should be kissing the feet of your landlord-really such nonsense reading I had to comment on this train wreck.

  27. Laura says:

    I know both JJ and Batida family. Both are wonderful, hard-working people. However, the facts are Salvo Art Project is a for profit company as is Nature Scapes. Before maligning one business, consider the undisputed fact that more than 10k in back rent was owed to the other. The Batida family is one of the most generous of small business owners but they have bills to pay too and eventually the unhealthy cycle that was not improving must be stopped. We need the arts in Flagler, but being poor tenants is not the way for Salvo Art business to build trust and support. How long would Flagler live or any business contInue to support another business after months of non-payment?

  28. Petra Iston says:

    1. According to our records :
    – we started paying Nature Scapes LLC. 2 on Janurary 2015 for a period of 6 months a rent of $1,500. ( it’s important to notice that the first 4 months after our relocation in August 2014 had been spent building out the first floor so we could open our doors. We were only open 2 months before we started paying rent and we did so at the request of Nature Scapes LLC. 2 owner. Any statement otherwise is untrue
    – from July 2015 until June 2016 we paid to Nature Scapes LLC. 2 rent of $2,000 each month
    – as of July 2016 through September 2016 we paid rent in the amount of $2,500 July check was made out to Nature Scapes LLC. 2 and August and September checks were made out to the trust of Marilou Baiata.
    2. September 2nd we have received a notice from Nick Baiata stating their intent of eviction based on a Code violation from the city of Bunnell. We were given 30 days to correct violations by the city of Bunnel. We did as asked and obtained building permit.
    3. During the following month due to certain interactions with them and their lawyers we obtained legal representation and were informed that because our lease was signed improperly by their party it could be ruled invalid. She also advised us that we were within our rights to place our rent into a sink fund until our dispute was resolved.
    4. It’s also important for anyone reading this to be aware that we had installed 2 5,000 ton HVAC units 6 months prior.
    5. Our insurance was and is in compliance with our lease.
    6. Our patrons are insulted. They are not litterbugs.
    I’m posting this statement under my given name, and will gladly email documents to anyone who wishes to know it’s merit.

  29. Jon Hardison says:

    I new ML and have done similar business with her in the past.
    I know JJ and Petra.
    Good people, all.

    What’s with the smear campaign?
    This all sucks for everyone. The dispute is pretty clear cut and emotions are going to run hot, I get it.
    But what is the value in these assertions that JJ & Petra are somehow bad people?

    They have managed something in Flagler. Something many have wanted but few could make happen.
    They’ve worked with artists and children and the community… They donated and given at every turn! To children in the form of classes and supplies, even when families couldn’t afford it. In the form of space and other support for other organizations where they could…

    But reading this comment thread there seem to be a group of people working EXTRA hard to cast a shadow over that truth – that history, and for what? Because you think the article is one-sided? Because you’re concerned about there being some backlash from the community over this eviction?
    You’re going to act like you’re doing Flagler a public services by educating us on the realities of two people that proven their metal to the community over and over and against all odds?

    It’s been clear for a long, long time that this wasn’t going to work out, but lets be real:
    Salvo did what they set out to do.
    For all the losses Chris and family are siting, they get a built out space, an A/C and two years of foot traffic they wouldn’t have otherwise had.
    So again I ask, what’s with the smear campaign? Is it just a case of being a sore winner?

    Salvo is out. You have an improved space. Is all this bullshit really necessary?
    You guys really feel the need to try to injure Salvo now that all this is finally over?

    I loved MLB with all my heart and I’m heartbroken that this didn’t work out they way she’d hoped but it didn’t.
    So now, finally, Chris and family are free of their shackles. ENJOY IT! You got everything you wanted.

    This desire to badmouth is going to come back and bite you in the ass.

  30. Barb Forristall says:

    I think we are forgetting the big picture here…Two people who worked very hard turning an empty rectangle into a magical place of art are losing their dream. As one of the Salvo Studio Artists with them from day one I witnessed that transformation. I am grateful to have been a part of it . I feel that while they put a lot of sweat and tears into this location; it is just a location they lost but, their dream will find a new better location and they will create something even better! Let’s focus on giving them support and focus on all the positives they brought to our community.

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