Emory, Montessori School disagree on lease

An impasse over the terms of a lease agreement between Emory and a Montessori School located in the first floor of the Burlington Road Building remains unresolved as the date for renovation of the site approaches.

The Montessori School at Emory, whose original landlord was Mercer University, has been located in the building since August 1994. School Director Tom Podgorney said about 70 percent of the school's 90 students are children of employees at Emory, Egleston Children's Hospital or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When Mercer sold the building to Emory in March 1995, the lease called for Montessori to vacate the building by the end of the second school year from the date of closing of the sale to Emory. Podgorney has said that means he should be able to stay until June 1997. Emory believes that it is clearly entitled to take possession on July 1, 1996, according to Vice President and General Counsel Joseph Crooks.

"We have plainly indicated that our lease cannot be terminated before July 1997," Podgorney said. He said he is hoping to meet with President Bill Chace and members of the Emory Board of Trustees soon. "I hope that we can have a dialogue on the alternatives," Podgorney said.

Emory has been engaged in dialogue with Podgorney for more than a year, Crooks said. "In our view, it is very clear that [the Montessori School] has to be out before the summer," he said. "We see no question about that. We have analyzed the lease carefully and we think that Mr. Podgorney is absolutely wrong. We need that space [for Emory's music program], and we have planned for it."

Crooks said Podgorney was aware of the need for the school to vacate the Burlington Road Building prior to the time the sale to Emory closed. "He has had a long time to prepare for this," Crooks said. "If he's not out by the appointed date, we will take appropriate action."

--Dan Treadaway

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