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Ammunition start-up comes to Roswell

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A local economic developer says Red Mountain Arsenal LLC will pay about four times higher rent on Building 60 at the Roswell International Air Center now that the facility will be used for its intended purpose — as a munitions building — not as an airline furniture storage site. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

A small-weapons ammunition manufacturer plans to begin operations in Roswell and has been offered what an economic developer described as the first lease of its kind for the Roswell International Air Center.

Red Mountain Arsenal LLC, a start-up incorporated in Gilbert, Arizona in January, intends to create ammunition “built to customer requirements,” according to a placeholder website.

The two principals of the firm are Pete Charnisky of Arizona and Alfred Alvarado Jr. of Alexandria, Virginia, according to public documents from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

Charnisky signed the lease with the city of Roswell, identifying himself as president of the firm.

Contact information for Charniksy or Alvarado could not be obtained by press time. A LinkedIn profile indicates that Charnisky was a technical officer with the U.S. Navy for 20 years until 1999, when he began to work for ammunition and propellant device firms in Arizona. From July 2011 to 2018, he was a production manager for Nammo Tactical Ammunition Co. LLC, described as a manufacturer of small-caliber ammunition.

“This gentleman whom I have been talking to for nine months had been looking all over the United States trying to find a building for this and we have it here,” said John Mulcahy, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp.

Mulcahy discussed the lease as part of his presentation about economic development activities given to the Chaves County Commissioners during their Thursday meeting.

The lease, approved by the Roswell City Council during a Sept. 13 meeting, is for an initial term of five years on Building 60, or 520 E. Challenger St., of the Roswell International Air Center.

According to city documents, the lease allows for up to four extensions of five years upon approval of the City Council.

The rent for the first year is $2,923 a month and is for the 8,770-square-foot building and 74,000 square feet of land. That rent is about four times what has been paid in the past for the building, in part because it was being used for airline furniture storage and not its intended use.

“It is a purpose-built munitions building,” Mulcahy told commissioners. “It is poured concrete. The door on the front is 7 inches thick and it is solid steel and it has a concrete roof and it is made for that sort of behavior.”

Mulcahy said the lease represents something new for the air center, reflecting the discussions and efforts of local governmental bodies to be responsive to tenant and economic development needs. He also said that he hopes more lease arrangements in the future will have some of the same provisions.

He pointed to the long length term of up to 25 years, the lack of a 90-day cancellation clause and the fact that the city, not the firm, bears responsibility for repairs and maintenance on the building. Such provisions encourage private investors to lease property and start companies here, he said.

“The last piece and what I think is probably the most important piece from an economic perspective, based on my history here, “ Mulcahy said, “is it is a required purpose. So when he moves in, he is not only involved in the lease, but that lease has a purpose, as all good leases do. You have to go in there and make small-arms ammunition. … He will not use that building for storage.”

Mulcahy said that in the past, some leases have allowed tenants to use it for any “legal purpose.”

“Any legal use is being empty for the last 12 years,” he said. “Well, being empty is not what anyone wants.”

The lease is set to start at an unspecified time, but no later than a year after its signing. Mulcahy indicated that the Red Mountain owners intended to be in Roswell by the end of the month.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.