Bank of America’s recent announcement that it will close its Pendleton location coincides with the end of a five-year lease period, which is part of a 106-year agreement, the owner of the building said.

Gary Robinson, owner and landlord for the 301 S. Main St. building, said before making the announcement, the corporation refused two months of payments after suddenly disputing lease terms it had upheld since 2007 when he bought the building.

The bank sent letters as early as Saturday to customers announcing it would close on Nov. 30.

The bank first contacted Robinson to dispute its $20,600 monthly lease on the 30,000-square-foot building Jan. 1, citing a down economy as its motivation to dispute paying utilities for the whole building. Robinson was locked in to providing the building for the bank for the length of the lease, unless the bank decided not to renew. The bank had the option to renew every five years.

“I haven’t received a penny. Nothing,” Robinson said. “So (Bank of America said) you owe us these thousands of dollars, and we’re going to collect it by not paying the rent.”

Robinson made $12,100 a month on the bank’s rent after using $8,500 to cover utilities and maintenance. But he said the bank told him he owes a total of at least $200,000 for overcharging them for rent, and has not made payments for July, August, or September.

When Robinson purchased the building, he thought he had a triple-net rent with Bank of America, which means the company would have to pay rent for the entire building even though it only used the basement and first floor. He said he hired Pendleton lawyer Patrick Gregg after trying by mail to negotiate with the bank. He said Gregg told him there was nothing Robinson could do to get the bank to pay its lease.

Britney Sheehan, spokesperson for the Bank’s western region, said neither the bank nor any of its lawyers would comment on the lease disagreement.

“We don’t publicly comment on any lease arrangements with any landlord,” she said. “The Bank of America Corporation is not going to comment on that.”

Sheehan told the East Oregonian Monday the corporation announced it would close 750 branches nationwide.

Robinson, of Lake Arrowhead, Calif., said his car has been repossessed, and he could lose his home and most of his retirement funding if he can’t sell the building or rent it out.

Robinson has been retired from his job as a pastor from Foursquare Gospel Church in Los Angeles for 15 years. He said he bought the bank building with money he inherited from his father. Robinson collected $145,200 yearly from Bank of America’s rent. Without it, he makes $36,000 a year to live on from the sale of another investment he made in a State Farm Insurance building in Texas, which he also purchased with his inheritance.

He said this isn’t enough to keep living in his home, located in a resort area in the San Gorgonio mountains. He’s been living with his daughter in Lake Forest, Calif., since Jan. 1, when Bank of America first contacted him about the lease.

Robinson said he cannot rent to other tenants because, per the lease, the bank controls all but four parking spaces. Robinson said the bank also controls the second, finished floor of the three-story building, but not the third floor, which is an unfinished attic.

“They only pay for 36.6 percent of property. So they pay about one-third of total, and they take 100 percent of the use,” he said. “It was the lease that I got when I bought the building. I would not have bought the building at all if it was not triple net.”

Bank of America has occupied the building at 301 S. Main St. in Pendleton since 1991 when it purchased the property from First Federal Savings and Loan Association for $600,000. The building changed ownership three times from 2002 to 2007 when Robinson purchased it with a $450,000 mortgage from American Properties Bank of America, according to Umatilla County records.

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Contact Chris Rizer at crizer@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.

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