The Union Recorder

December 4, 2013

Development Authority moves Shaw Building lease onward

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE —

The Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville and Baldwin County held its final 2013 meeting at the Baldwin County Airport Tuesday.

In addition to saying an official goodbye to Chair Dr. Jo Ann Jones and secretary Annette Ford for their long authority service, the board passed several motions involving the Shaw Building lease, county corridor improvement plans and a shared full-time employee with the Chamber of Commerce.

• Shaw Building lease action approved

Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley and David Sinclair, acting chairman of Solar Zones, LLC., signed a Memorandum of Understanding to put the vacant Shaw Building back to work as the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Communiversity (MBC) in early October. 

A communiversity is a community-based public-private partnership that encourages community learning, entrepreneurism and economic development. 

After nearly four months of negotiations, the city agreed to lease-purchase the 93,000 square foot building to Solar Zones by way of the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Development Authority for $450,000 because the city can't legally lease the building.

The authority settled initial questions about the MOU and sublease agreement before unanimously approving it Tuesday.

Development Authority Executive Director Matt Poyner said the authority bears no liability, but instead will simply act as a conduit for the transaction.

“We'll lease the building from the city and then will sublease from us to Solar Zones,” Poyner said.

If the tenant defaulted for any reason, the building and any leans or debt go back to the city.

“We are just a landlord,” attorney George Carpenter Jr. said.

Poyner said Solar Zones would supply a quarterly capital investment summary to the authority and the city. Dollar points go toward the purchase price as improvements are made. 

“The improvements to the property basically constitute the rent,” Carpenter said.

The lease runs for two years.

Neither the city nor Solar Zones have signed off on the new agreement yet.

“We are saying it's all right with us and here it is,” Carpenter said. “It isn't a final deal because they haven't seen it.”

• Proposal for airport and industrial park improvements

The authority wants enhancements for the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Industrial Park and the Baldwin County Airport.

Thomas & Hutton provided a proposal for future planning and design. The next step is cost estimates for implementation.

“I'm asking for the $9,000 and change to start rebuilding the industrial park,” Poyner said Tuesday.

The overall industrial park plan features signage and streetscape development as part of sprucing up the entire area.

“I have the sign designed already, and I show that to our prospects. They are like wow it's a great looking sign, but when is it going to happen?” Poyner said. “This will help speed that process up.”

Funds of $9,100 cover beginning costs associated with design implementation. Poyner said the authority's has enough money to front the bill until the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax construction account fills after collections.

The firm's landscape architects are familiar with both areas for improvement.

The Development Authority already approved $15,000 for airport facility upgrades.

Chair of the Baldwin County Airport Advisory Committee Jim Wolfgang thanked the board for its commitment to the facility.

“We appreciate the funds to try and make this place a better welcome for the people you are trying to convince that Milledgeville and Baldwin County is the best place to be,” Wolfgang said. “This is the way people come to see us. It's always been a good airport, but now is our opportunity to make it that crown jewel that gets attention.”

• Chamber and DA hiring a joint full-time employee

As part of shared services agreements with the Chamber of Commerce, the Development Authority will pay half the salary and benefits for a new full-time employee.

The discussed “officer manager” fits into the current budget.

“We've interviewed one person and will have another three interviews Friday,” Poyner said.

The hire will officially be a Chamber employee at a base salary between $35,000 and $40,000.

Duties include coordinating with interns and front-end staff as well as managing financials.

The contract lasts for one year.

“If we aren't happy that we are getting 50 percent of the services, we can terminate the contract with 90 days notice,” Jones said. “The incentive is there to make sure we are getting the services we need from this individual.”

Ford, the current office manager, is retiring after December.

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