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Site Plans: Does 'X' Mark the Spot?

When landlords and tenants negotiate shopping center leases, they customarily utilize site plans to contemplate the location of buildings, tenants, parking, and ingress and egress. When such site plans are attached to and incorporated into the lease, tenants typically argue that the site plan, as depicted, is binding on the future development of the center. Landlords tend to argue that the site plans are preliminary and subject to changes. This article discusses how courts have dealt with the enforceability of site plans. The lesson, as typical with any contract, is to draft and negotiate carefully, as courts will bind parties to the site plans. However, if intended by the parties, landlords can minimize the effect of site plans and allow themselves to make changes to the center that typically does not materially affect the tenant.

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