Century council tables cotton storage for now
August 20, 2020
The Century Town Council voted Monday night to table a lease proposal received Aug. 6 from West Florida Gin to store cotton in the 40,000 square-foot building in the industrial park for $6,000 a month for 5 years in favor of letting a manufacturing company that would bring 21 jobs to come Thursday to look at it for possible occupancy.
“The lease would generate $72,000 annually for the town's general fund,” said Interim City Manager Vernon Prather.
Prather told the council that in a 2017 appraisal, the listed selling price of the building was $550,000, or monthly rental rate of $6,667, which represents $1.78 per foot and 90 percent of the appraised rental rate.
Prather compared some other buildings in the town to what West Florida Gin is offering.
The building, originally built for Stater Sportwear, has not been used in 12 years, and Prather said there are some minor repairs to be done.
Prather said the repairs to the roof and some other repairs inside would be about $40,000, saying it was a high quote due to the roof leak that might be pricey.
Mayor Henry Hawkins said that Danita Andrews, with Florida West and Pensacola Economic Development Corporation, called with a request from a manufacturing company out of town that would bring 21 jobs to come take a look at the building for possible occupancy.
The mayor assured the council that even though the town received a proposal, it is not obligated to act on it.
Councilwoman Brenda Spencer expressed concern that waiting for another company to look at the building does not bring assurance
“We don't have any assurance that they are going to come in, but I personally, I would want to wait for them to have a look at the building,” said Councilman James Smith. “Here's why. The cotton gin company, which are the same guys who told us they had plenty of other places to go and occupy, so they were trying to push us against a wall to give them the building for pennies on the dollar. I am not comfortable with it. I would prefer to wait. I will be making a motion to hear from the manufacturing company before we go forward.”
Smith also asked to make sure the cotton gin company was not trying to own the building at the end of five years and Prather assured Smith that they were offering a lease only offer. He told the council that if they were to consider this new offer, the town will have to vote no on West Florida's proposal and go through the bid process again.
“That location is in an industrial park, where the inhabitants are supposed to bring growth and jobs to an area,” said Councilman Luis Gomez. “The six people on that contract are already employed with the cotton gin. That's a no right there. I don't plan to vote to put cotton storage in an industrial park where the building has not been properly advertised or shopped.”
Gomez suggested the town shop the building for a viable tenant to bring jobs and industry to the town of Century for more revenue.
In a motion made by Councilman Smith to table the issue until the next council meeting which was seconded by Councilman Gomez, the motion carried.
After a pause, Councilwoman Ann Brooks asked Spencer to clarify her vote.
“Um…..I'm sorry, I'm thinking...reluctantly, yes,” said Councilwoman Spencer.
“I reluctantly vote yes, too,” said Councilwoman Brooks.
“I reluctantly vote yes, too,” said Councilman Gomez.
“Well the thing is, reluctantly isn't even a vote, so nobody cares about what you reluctantly do,”said Councilman Smith. “It's either a yes or a no. Now let's move to the next agenda item.”
Councilwoman Sandra McMurray Jackson was not present.