WomanCare kicked out of plaza, 6/6/2000

By Jeff Schweers, FLORIDA TODAY

“If the decision was made over the issue of abortion, that’s cowardly of Coldwell Banker. I don’t want to do business with people who do business that way.” — Tammy Sobieski, clinic director

SUNTREE — Brevard County’s only women’s health clinic that also provides abortions will be forced to relocate in August when its lease runs out.

Coldwell Banker, the property manager for Suntree Plaza, told WomanCare last week that the lease won’t be renewed on the 3,800-square-foot building behind the plaza parking lot.

“I feel sad for the women of Brevard County,” clinic director Tammy Sobieski said, promising to find the clinic a new home in Brevard.

WomanCare, the successor to Aware Woman Center for Choice, moved to Suntree Plaza last August after the Florida Department of Transportation forced it out of the building on U.S. 1 to make way for a road-widening project. Aware Woman had occupied the building for two decades.

Pro-life activists reacted to the relocation with moderately sized protests that quickly died down to a handful of stalwarts at least three mornings a week.

“I don’t know what the problem is with us being in the building, except the obvious, which is that we provide abortions among other services we provide our clients,”. Sobieski said.

Carla Casey, senior property manager for Coldwell Banker, said tenants and patrons were not happy with the situation.

“There are concerns all the way around, whether it’s the general public or the tenants,” Casey said. “When you start getting into an issue … everybody has a different opinion.”

Jean Lehmann, owner of the Kids Cottage consignment shop, said she was relieved to see the clinic leaving. She remembered how protesters had initially threatened to put all the plaza’s tenants out of business in order to pressure the landlord into evicting the clinic.

“I don’t want to be in the middle of a fight,” said Lehmanri, who is still considering breaking her three-year lease to find a quieter location. “I’m really tired of it.”

Sobieski said she’s sorry that some people have preconceived notions about clinics that provide abortions and that Coldwell Banker would cave to the pressures.

That kind of shortsightedness and intolerance is offensive to women,” Sobieski said. “If the decision was made over the issue of abortion, that’s cowardly of Coldwell Banker. I don’t want to do business with people who do business that way.”

Coldwell Banker took over as property manager after the original manager, Golden Triangle Corp., went out of business, Casey said.

Sobieski said she had wanted to discuss renewing the clinic’s lease with Coldwell Banker. She said she paid the $4,500-a-month rent on time and brought about 300 clients and their families to the plaza each month.

“I’d be disappointed if this is their final decision,” Sobieski said. “I hope they’re not that shortsighted. That building was vacant a year before we moved in.”

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