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After investing thousands to launch salon, businesswoman’s plan foiled

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A Watertown businesswoman signed a long-term lease last fall to start a nail salon in a Route 3 strip plaza in front of Walmart. But after renovating the space, Tracy Nguyen discovered she can’t open the shop because of an agreement she previously signed to open Pro Spa Nails at Salmon Run Mall.

That lease agreement signed by Ms. Nguyen, who now runs the mall store, prevents her from starting any business within a 10-mile radius of Salmon Run Mall. In other words, to open the shop at the strip mall, she’d need to close the mall store.

Ms. Nguyen, meanwhile, is obligated make payments on a five-year lease on the strip mall spot that she signed in October with Alexandria Bay developer Philip J. Simao. Mr. Simao said Ms. Nguyen — who probably has invested thousands to renovate the space — should have been cognizant of the restriction with Salmon Run before signing the lease, which she can’t back out from.

Work already completed by general contractor Shawn Schroy Construction includes the installation of a new ceiling and tile flooring, interior painting and the purchase of cabinets and chairs. On Friday, large signs that read “SALON OPEN SOON” were resting on the tiled floor.

“They kept saying, ‘We’re going to open, we’re going to open, we’re going to open.’ She made substantial improvements,” Mr. Simao said. “And then there became this problem (in January) her attorney told me about,” Mr. Simao said.

“She now has possession of the space and is paying rent, but she can’t open the doors because it would violate the lease. But I’d love to have her in there if she can work out the differences.”

Mr. Simao was contacted about the problem in the winter by attorney Patrick L. Evans, Watertown, who represented Ms. Nguyen when she signed the lease in the fall. Mr. Evans did not return a call Friday seeking comment. Ms. Nguyen, who was assisting clients at the mall Friday, said she didn’t have time to answer questions.

Mr. Simao said many improvements were completed at the strip mall, which had sat vacant since it was built in 2007, to get ready for the would-be first tenant. The plaza’s exterior was painted, the parking lot was paved and exterior lighting was installed.

“We did everything we were contractually obligated to do for her to move in,” Mr. Simao said. “I wanted her to be open months ago. But I would have never entered into an agreement with her had it been represented that it was going to be a problem.”

Mr. Simao said several prospective tenants have expressed interest in vacant storefronts on the parcel owned by Toped Development LLC, of which he is the managing member.

“I now have multiple people talking about putting franchises in there,” he said. “It’s an ideally situated property with other development around it.”

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