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Millennium lease passes even with opposition

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The Roswell City Council also voted Thursday to renew five leases at the Roswell Air Center, including one that the city attorney indicated not be voided at this time but still earned four “protest” votes from councilors.

The Millennium Transit Services LLC lease extension originally was scheduled to be considered by the City Council in August, but it was pulled and referred for further consideration to the Legal Committee, which had approved it once before on July 25.

After hearing from City Attorney Aaron Holloman at its Aug. 22 meeting that the city should honor the lease agreement as long as the tenant is in compliance with the lease terms, the Legal Committee again approved the lease for consideration by the City Council.

The fourth amendment of the lease provides the city $15,000 a year for the 10-acre land lease until the option expires on Aug. 31, 2029.

But, because the lease allows for up to three more 10-year extensions, the city is looking at possibly another 30 years under the lease agreement.

“We do have a legal obligation to renew this,” said Air Center Manager Mark Bleth. “They are not in default on their lease.”

He added that Millennium Transit is agreeing to a 50% increase in the annual rent under the new amendment. He also said the company pays about $62,000 a year in property taxes, maintains the 420,000-square-foot building it owns on the land at 42 W. Earl Cummings Loop and has two employees who work in the facility.

The original lease was negotiated in July 1980 when the building was used by Transportation Manufacturing Corp., a subsidiary of Greyhound, to make commercial passenger buses. Several different companies owned the business and building in the intervening years, and Millennium Transit took over in about 2003. The bus manufacturing operations closed in 2008. James A. Ludvik, who also owns Ludvik Electric Co. based in Lakewood, Colorado, has controlled Millennium since 2005.

The lease renewal passed 6-4, with Councilors Jacob Roebuck, Caleb Grant, George Peterson and Angela Moore voting against the action.

Roebuck, the person who had asked in August that the item be sent back to the Legal Committee, explained after the meeting that his was a “protest” vote. He said councilors understood that the city couldn’t void the lease, but that he wanted to encourage city staff to be more proactive in working with tenants.

“When (the contract) was created, the idea was that we were going to give them this great land lease in return for jobs,” he said. “For a long time, that was what we got out of it. But that was understood; it wasn’t a written thing. And they are trying to sell the building. There are no hostile feelings here. But the staff should be a little more proactive in approaching the building owners to say, what can we do to move this building on?”

He said the building is at a prime location and has a lot of apron space. “The airport is 95% occupied right now and we need space,” he said. “We need people who are doing things.”

Interviewed in July, Ludvick said he was negotiating with a business to “put the building back into use” but chose not to elaborate. Bleth confirmed that the owner is also considering selling the building.

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