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Chain Store Seeks Spot on Posh Avenue

October 23, 1989

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Leaders of upper crust Palm Beach say The Limited clothing stores would attract the wrong element and should remain limited to shopping malls and other less ritzy venues.

But a landlord who wants to rent to the chain on exclusive Worth Avenue - an East Coast equivalent of Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive - is crying snobbery and will seek to overturn the ban in Palm Beach Circuit Court beginning this week.

The Town Council’s rejection was ″arbitrary and capricious,″ according to J. Michael Burman, attorney for landlord Burton Handelsman.

Several residents earned applause for speaking against The Limited at a council meeting in March 1988.

″I’ve been in their other shops, and it’s nothing you can’t buy in a mall,″ resident Elise Mackintosh complained at a council meeting in March 1988. ″It’s not very dignified.″

Elizabeth Summers complained that the shops ″sell very inexpensive clothes; they are always on sale.″

She said when another chain store moved to Worth Avenue, merchants ″were all extremely upset with the type of merchandise that they were carrying, plus the type of people they would attract.″

Mackintosh and other residents were not swayed by the assurances of a spokesman for The Limited who told them ″Jacqueline Onassis, Meryl Streep and Mrs. William F. Buckley, to name a few, have shopped in our Madison Avenue store″ in New York City.

The Limited stores are owned by Columbus, Ohio-based Limited Inc., a leading specialty apparel retailer. Limited also operates Victoria’s Secret, Limited Express and other chains.

According to town ordinances drafted in 1980, large retail stores must prove the majority of their customers do not come from ″off-island locations,″ said John DeVault, a Jacksonville lawyer representing the town.

Handelsman’s attorney countered that the landlord is not subject to the standard because the site was in use as a restaurant before the ordinance was enacted and is ″grandfathered in.″ Handelsman bought the site for $3.2 million in July 1983.

The landlord’s attorney also said the town fails to define methods on how to prove the customer base for a proposed store.

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