Some background information first: I'm a father of three, and I've been running a store with my wife in the same shopping center in southern Florida for 20 years now. Around 13 years ago, we moved into a different location in the same center, and in the process expanded to two lots. About 5 years ago, we again expanded, this time to three lots. We've consistently paid our rent on time, and we've been all-around good tenants as far as we know.
Time hasn't been kind to our business, and we can no longer afford to lease three lots in the shopping center. To stay in business, we contacted the shopping center management company to notify them that we would only be able to renew our lease for two lots this period, instead of the previous three.
Weeks passed without any response from them, and with the lease renewal date (April 31st) coming up soon, we took all of last weekend to do some construction and shrink our storefront back to two lots, rebuilding the wall separating us from the third lot in the process. As of today, our shop is again completely contained within two lots, and it's as if the third lot is unowned.
Today, someone from the management company notified us that, if we did not renew our lease for all three lots, they would "not be interested in renewing our lease," period. In a nutshell, they're making us choose between either renewing all three lots or leaving, and since we can't afford three lots anymore, this means we're out of business.
Needless to say, we're not all that excited about the idea of packing up and abandoning our 20-year family business, so we're trying to seek whatever legal recourse we can.
What we've done
As of today, we've hired a lawyer, and we've made it clear to the management company that they should only correspond with him from now on.
My question, in a nutshell: is it illegal in any way for the management company to refuse to renew our lease completely unless we maintain the three lots? We're facing the loss of our business as we know it, so we'd appreciate any sort of relevant advice on this.
To add on to that: if it turns out there's nothing we can do and they don't renew our lease, what are our rights as tenants then?
(Disclaimer: we're not planning on using this thread as legal counsel (we've got a lawyer for that) but we'd appreciate some useful facts or advice from people more knowledgeable than us on the topic.)