Studer Deal Hinges on Parking, CMPA Deficit

With other details hammered out, the lease deal between Quint Studer, the Community Maritime Park Associates and the city of Pensacola apparently hinges on parking and bettering the park’s budgetary numbers. How many spaces will there be, who has the right to use them and when, and how much of a return will the CMPA see?

Studer representative Andrew Rothfedder today called the parking specifics “the only big issue.” CMPA board member Jim Reeves called it a “complicated issue,” while Studer attorney Scott Remington described is as a “very complicated issue.”

Studer’s representatives met with the CMPA Board of Trustees this afternoon to discuss the lease agreement. While the parties have tentatively agreed on an annual lease fee of 7.25 percent of the property’s appraised value, and a loose, subject-to-change CAM fee of .75 percent, the CMPA is apparently reluctant to sign off on 200 parking spaces for the $12 million office complex Studer intends to build. With an approximately $800,000 budget shortfall, the CMPA doesn’t want to give up the parking spaces without seeing some form of income in return.

“At some point,” said City Councilman and CMPA board member Larry Johnson, “we have to have a conversation about enjoying some of that 7.25—and when I say ‘we,’ I have my CMPA hat on.”

Reeves eventually suggested the board accept the proposed lease agreement provided by Remington—recommending that the city accept the terms—with the caveat that the city pass along the .75 CAM fee and 75 percent of the 7.25 lease fee. The board later approved that motion.

“So, you’re asking for another $75,000,” asked CMPA Chairman Collier Merrill.

“I’m asking for a reasonable return on the parking lot we are furnishing,” Reeves replied,  adding that his request pertained to the city, not Studer.

Following a meeting of the CMPA’s audit and operations committee earlier this week, Remington wrote a letter to CMPA Executive Director Ed Spears calling the parking issue “very much in the air.” It noted that the committee had suggested moving on the lease agreement, but was hesitant to provide 200 parking spaces “pending the CMPA and the city coming to an agreement on balancing the CMPA’s operating budget” and that it couldn’t see going forward with a deal “until such time as the operating budget deficiencies are resolved.”

Merrill said he had spoken with city administration regarding the $800,000 deficit. He said there were various options being looked at to better the scenario.

“While we do have a deficit, it’s not quite as bleak as we might think,” the chairman said.