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WIC changes, approves lease agreement for JCLDC space

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A proposed lease for the Jefferson County Local Development Corp.’s new office space in a Starbuck Avenue business incubator has been changed drastically since it was introduced three weeks ago.

On Friday, the Watertown Industrial Center board unanimously agreed to amend the proposed lease agreement for JCLDC’s new headquarters in the facility that the WIC operates at 800 Starbuck Ave.

During a special meeting, the board concurred WIC should receive a base rent of $1.20 per square foot for nine new offices in the expanded 4,616 square feet of space.

Under the changes, JCLDC also no longer would borrow $100,000 toward the construction costs of the $450,000 project.

Under the amended agreement, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency is lending $350,000 to WIC at 3 percent interest to pay for the construction of the expansion next to its location at Building B in the industrial center. Under the first proposal, JCLDC would have lent the money to WIC for the project.

The development corporation plans to move into space now occupied by Environmental Spill Products, which would move under the plan. Now leasing 2,200 square feet of space at the center, JCLDC needs more room as it expands its staff to nine employees.

Before the vote, WIC board Chairman Donald W. Rutherford said the amended lease agreement was “more consistent” with agreements held by other tenants that have space at the facility. Mr. Rutherford said he wanted to make sure that “no special treatment” was given to JCLDC in the deal.

Last week, the WIC board delayed taking action on the lease agreement to continue negotiations amid criticism that JCLDC was treated differently from other tenants.

The local development corporation’s board still must approve the lease agreement and the JCIDA board must act on the loan to WIC, said William J. Soluri, the industrial center’s site manager. The two organizations are affiliated with each other.

In addition to the changes in the lease, JCLDC would pay $2.30 per square foot that goes toward water use, maintenance, taxes and other expenses. It would pay $9.75 per square foot that would go to pay off the loan.

The corporation would pay a total of $13.25 per square foot, or $5,100, a month. From that revenue, WIC would pay on the loan for the construction project, Mr. Soluri said.

He said other tenants pay about $5 to $10 per square foot for office space in the facility.

Last week’s delay in approving the lease agreement came just a few days after the Times learned JCLDC passed on a proposal by the developers of the planned $12.8 million restoration of the Lincoln Building about relocating there before it decided to stay put on Starbuck Avenue. The agency also looked at several other downtown sites, but also passed on them.

Until March, JCIDA oversaw the industrial center’s operation. But WIC severed ties with it as part of a reorganization.

Construction on the new space would start “as soon as possible,” with bids to be sought for a general contractor and separate ones for electrical and mechanical contractors, Mr. Soluri said.

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