After delaying a vote on two lease agreements, the Mobile City Council is still not any closer to an agreement with the owners of Gulf Coast Ducks.
The council is set to consider a sublease agreement from Gulf Coast Ducks that would lease back a small portion of a building at 650 St. Anthony St. The city sold the building and nearly a city block’s worth of property to the Gulf Coast Ducks operators in an unusual no-bid, right of first refusal deal before those owners sold it to another entity for almost double the price just months after the city sale was finalized. The administration has said the sublease is needed to store two floats used for Mardi Gras and the now defunct Christmas parade. The lease would be for $360 per month.
The council is also set to consider a non-exclusive right for the Ducks to use a city-owned dock for $500 per month. Councilors had asked the administration to reach out to the company’s owners and find a better deal. As of Tuesday, Brad Christensen, director of real estate and asset management, had attempted contact but had not heard from the owners.
“We hope to get with them in the coming week,” he said. “I don’t know if there will be a deal, but we hope to get with them.”
Before voting to delay a vote on the lease agreements for another week, Council President Levon Manzie said they’d have an answer either way.
“If they don’t want to come to the table … I know I’ll have my answer,” he said. “I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ll have an answer.”
The city sold the building in question to Gulf Coast Ducks ownership for $255,000 earlier this year. The company turned around and sold it to another owner in June for $500,000. When the city sold the property to the company, it entered into a lease for space for the floats.
The building and nearly a city block of property were sold to Gulf Coast Ducks ownership based upon a “right of first refusal” clause that had been included in the lease the company had with the city when it was using the warehouse to store duck boats. The city set a price for the property based upon a 4-year-old appraisal. The company made $245,000 on the resale just a few months after buying the city property.
At issue for councilors is assurances from administration officials that the space at 650 St. Anthony St. was not needed for municipal use.
“How did we declare the structure no longer needed, if we needed it?” Councilwoman Bess Rich asked.
Councilman Joel Daves argued the boat ramp has nothing to do with the sublease of the space. He also defended the city’s decision on the building’s sale.
“We sold a building the city needed a small part of,” he said. “We didn’t need the whole building. We made the best decision we could at the time.”
The council has had an ongoing debate over how best to handle the selling off of city-owned property.
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