New Pal businesses closing; Tenants cite lack of access to water

NEW PALESTINE — Two small New Palestine businesses shuttered their doors last week.

The Poppy Boutique and The Vapor Vice 2, which take up store fronts in a strip mall along U.S. 52, closed Friday. Both business owners confirmed their impending shutdown on their company Facebook pages.

In a video, TJ Birdwell, the owner of the Vapor Vice 2, said he received notice Nov. 30 stating the building that houses his shop would soon have no access to running water, forcing him to shut down. Birdwell declined to comment for this story.

Similarly, Nicole Miller, owner of the Poppy Boutique, posted that “due to an issue with (the) building,” her business would also be closing down. Miller did not return multiple requests for comment on this story.

Both businesses moved out Friday.

The two business owners closed up shop, citing a lack of access to running water, but their landlord and building owner, Trevor Lloyd-Jones, said there is a lack of communication regarding the water issue and he has nothing to do with the building’s utility problems.

Lloyd-Jones said he never contacted the business owners to tell them they wouldn’t have running water.

As a courtesy, Jeff O’Mara, who owns half of the strip mall, informed both of Lloyd-Jones’ tenants that their building would no longer have access to water unless their landlord took action, said Michael Boring, an attorney who represents O’Mara.

Lloyd-Jones owns one of two buildings inside New Palestine Plaza; the other structure is owned and operated by O’Mara, who heads real estate company O’Mara Properties.

The strip mall houses five businesses, including the Poppy Boutique and the Vapor Vice 2. Other businesses include an Anytime Fitness, an Edward Jones office and a Pizza Hut.

The equipment that previously supplied public well water to the entire strip is located on O’Mara’s property, Boring said. When O’Mara Properties recently switched to town-supplied water, the equipment that pumped the well water to the businesses was disabled, said New Palestine building inspector and planning commissioner Jim Robinson.

As a result, Lloyd-Jones needed to switch to town-supplied water or install equipment in his own building that would continue powering the well, Robinson said.

Meanwhile, Lloyd-Jones is currently involved in an unrelated lawsuit with O’Mara concerning a property boundary dispute.

In October, O’Mara Properties filed a lawsuit against Lloyd-Jones that states “recent and continuing hostile and intentional actions” by Lloyd-Jones have threatened businesses in the strip mall. The lawsuit states Lloyd-Jones repeatedly harassed O’Mara Properties’ tenants, according to court documents.

When contacted by the Daily Reporter, Lloyd-Jones said both of his tenants, Miller and Birdwell, came to him individually and requested to break their leases.

Shortly after receiving news the building would be without water, Birdwell and Miller informed Lloyd-Jones they were moving out.

Lloyd-Jones added the same well has provided his building with water for more than 30 years, and he hasn’t been told the building would no longer have running water.

“I cannot help the fact that these businesses have made the decision to leave,” Lloyd-Jones said. “They’ve made a tremendous investment. But if they feel they can’t make it, then I won’t make matters worse for them.”

“I thought it would be very reasonable of me to release them,” he added, declining to comment further.

Before its closure, New Palestine resident Jaci Greig frequented Poppy Boutique, which was located right around the corner from her home, at least twice a week, she said.

“I am very sad to see it go,” Greig said. “It’s definitely a step backward.”

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Evan Myers is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 317-477-3228 or emyers@greenfieldreporter.com.