Commissioners give OK to Buggy Factory building

Aug. 19, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

The Lee County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the lease agreement for the Sanford Buggy Factory building, the proposed site for the Sanford-Lee County Partnership for Prosperity, at its meeting Monday night after a number of changes earlier in the day.

Lee County Manager John Crumpton said the sticking point that prevented the board from approving the lease on Aug. 4, mainly that the city of Sanford, Lee County and the Partnership for Prosperity be combined under one lease instead of three separate leases, had been worked out. 

"We are one tenant," said County Attorney Kerry Schmid. "If one of us doesn’t pay rent, we all don’t pay rent."

The Sanford City Council will consider the contract at tonight's meeting, with the Partnership for Prosperity to vote on the matter on Wednesday.

The right of first refusal was among the other major changes Schmid outlined for the commissioners. 

This provision gives Lee County, the city of Sanford and the Partnership for Prosperity the chance to rent additional space in the facility before it is offered to other renters. The lease, as it stands, is for the first two floors, leaving the third floor vacant.

"The third floor will be roughed in," said Lee County Manager John Crumpton. "If anybody were to move up to the third floor, really you're just putting up walls, doing minimal work that would not interrupt our operations on first and second floor."

Roughing in involves running electrical wiring and plumbing through the area, but not making the final connections.

Commissioner Ricky Frazier asked whether the exterior of the third floor would be beautified even though it would originally be unoccupied. Crumpton said it would, as, due to its classification as a historic property, the building is held to certain standards for tax credit purposes.

Other changes to the lease included — specifying the tenants' responsibilities for janitorial and garbage services, the tenants' right to terminate the lease in the event a fire or other unavoidable accident leaves the building uninhabitable, and the time line involved in vacating the property should it be taken by eminent domain.

Commissioner Andre Knecht expressed concern regarding the length of the lease, saying a lot could change in 10 years.

"A lot of changes [are coming] in Lee County," Knecht said. "That may change ... the dynamic of the whole area. That’s where I have a big issue with a 10-year lease. That may leave us [stuck] somewhere we don’t want to be depending on the changes that happen."

Schmid detailed a non-appropriation clause, which states that the lease would be terminated in the event any of the three partners failed or refused to appropriate required funding for the rent in a given year.

"Our intention is to honor the 10 years," Crumpton said. "But you don’t know what's going to happen five or six years down the road. Things could change quite a bit, and we may have trouble honoring that lease. We would have to address it at that time."

During its meeting, the board also:

  •  approved a contract with Esri for geographic information systems for the county.
  • declared September as "Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in Lee County."