Studer leases slowly trek forward

  • July 21, 2015
  • /   Shannon Nickinson
  • /   community-dashboard

A rendering of the University of West Florida Center for Entrepreneurship as proposed at the Community Maritime Park.

The next chapter in the saga of leasing space at the Community Maritime Park is set for Wednesday.

John Daniel of Beggs & Lane, and Scott Remington of Clark, Partington, Hart, Larry, Bond & Stackhouse will meet on Wednesday afternoon to discuss leases for parcels 3, 6 and 9 proposed by Quint and Rishy Studer.

The Studer leases would include a convention space near the Pensacola Blue Wahoos Stadium and a building to house the University of West Florida’s Center For Entrepreneurship.

The center, to which the Studers have pledged $1 million, which will focus on community building, education, research and supporting small-business development.

The idea deeply enhances the University’s downtown presence and restores the educational and community-building components missing from the Maritime Park since UWF withdrew from the original plans for the park that included research space, classrooms and a maritime museum.

The Community Maritime Park Associates Board has signed off on the leases after several month of negotiations. The lease was forwarded to Pensacola City Councilmembers the afternoon of a special meeting on July 16.

At that meeting, councilmembers took no action on the leases, but passed a resolution supporting the Studers’ plans for the three parcels.

Remington said copies of the leases were delivered to city officials on June 19 and 25.

“John called me Friday to set up a meeting this Wednesday at 2 p.m.,” Remington wrote in an email  “We are looking forward to it because it will be the first time we have received any substantive comments to the proposed leases we sent them on June 19 & 25.”

Daniel mentioned at the July 16 meeting that he had a funeral to attend and could not meet to discuss the leases before July 21.

City questions on leases

Tamara Fountain, the city’s chief operating officer, said that among the questions to be answered in the discussion:

— Who is the LLC that will lease the parcels. While the Studers are the people who will hold the lease, for each parcel, there will be a separate LLC. That would follow, Remington says, the same process used for the other parcel leases on the park site.

In the documents, the limited liability corporation that will sublease it is listed “to be determined.”  When directly questioned by Councilwoman Sherri Myers about who the LLC is at a special council workshop on June 18, Quint Studer said, "Rishy and I."

— It said that the CMPA gets to approve the purpose for the parcels. “Council may prefer that they approve the purpose,” she said.

— Fountain said the city would like “a clear explanation of how the parking will be handled.” The proposal seeks the use of 95 parking spaces — shared with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos — at the park site for all three parcels. Because the Studers also own the team, they would be agreeing with themselves to use parking space on the site that they already have claim to.

The latest iteration of the lease, according to Remington, says that "before we build we have a comprehensive parking agreement with city, CMPA and other users of the parcels."

— The Studers proposed rent for parcels 3, 6 and 9, including common area maintenance fees but not including property tax, would be $120,560 a year with an increase of 7 percent every five years.

Common area maintenance fees go directly to CMPA. Rent goes to city and by agreement the city returns approximately 75 percent of that to the CMPA.

“The rent amount was OK,” Fountain said, “but at what point would you do a re-appraisal because its a 99-year lease?”

On July 23, the city posted the proposed leases online. They are linked here.

For comparison, the lease with Beck Property for One51Main is linked here.

The Studer lease for the Maritime Place office building is linked here.

The long and winding road

The Studers first offered the leases in as part of a response to requests for proposals to develop property at the Community Maritime issued late last year.

Quint Studer’s frustration with the long process was evident at the July 16 special meeting. While clearly councilmembers felt their resolution of support — including measures to take those three parcels off the market and work within 60 days to finalize the leases — was a good thing, Studer was frustrated.

A letter he read at that meeting said in part: “For months we have struggled to navigate the process to negotiate leases on three of your vacant parcels. We have been to innumerable meetings with the CMPA, CMPA Audit and OPerations meetings, members of CMPA, a City Council workshop and now a special meeting of City Council. This week after months of meetings your agent for leasing, the CMPA, overwhelmingly took the position that the proposal needed to move forward immediately and took steps to make that happen. They did not need to approve anything in concept or take their property off the market for 60 days; rather they took action and approve subleases for these parcels and opened the door for UWF to come back to the Maritime Park.

“Despite this breakthrough, we are now faced with the prospect of renegotiating the approved subleases with the mayor or council. If this occurs it will be disheartening and a significant departure from the manner in which Maritime Park Office Building and the Beck building subleases were handled.”

Read the letter here.

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