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Judge rules in favor of store owner in Kahler eviction fight

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A Rochester businesswoman has won her fight to keep her store in the Kahler Grand Hotel — at least for now.

Renee Carlson, owner of the Revelation, Les Wigs Renee and Merle Norman cosmetics store, had been fighting an attempt by Kahler Hotels LLC to evict her from the hotel, arguing she had a valid three-year lease. The hotel made the case that Carlson didn't give the required written notice to extend her lease. On Friday, Olmsted District Court Judge Joseph Chase ruled in Carlson's favor.

"We are thrilled, and we believe that the judge made the right decision," Carlson said.

Attorney Ken Schueler, who represented the hotel, said his client was disappointed with the ruling and is considering appealing it.

"Our view is that we have a lot of respect for Judge Chase; he is an excellent jurist. Obviously, we feel he missed the mark, and we are evaluating his decision," Schueler said.

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In a memorandum explaining his order, Chase said his decision hinged on a letter sent by the Kahler Hotel's-then Director of Lease Operations Sandra Woodford. Carlson had failed to submit in writing by Oct. 1, 2012, that she planned to exercise her option to extend her lease. And while Woodford and Carlson had talked about extending the lease, that did not meet the requirements.

But on Jan. 21, 2013, Woodford sent Carlson a letter that said the store owner had an option to extend her lease for another three years and that beginning Jan. 1 the rent would be increased $50 per square foot. Carlson signed the letter, agreeing to the terms.

The court ruling means Carlson has the option to remain a tenant at the Kahler Grand Hotel until 2018. After learning of the judge's ruling, Carlson said she was in tears.

"I thank all the people who have been praying for us because I know that that has really mattered," Carlson said. "We have had so much support and prayers that it's been absolutely amazing from the community and store owners."

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