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Generating interest in vacant city properties

The City of Pensacola wants to generate more interest from private developers city-owned vacant properties.
Mayor Ashton Hayward has a plan to move that issue forward, but that plan is ruffling the feathers of some local business leaders.

Will Kennedy tackles the topic in this waste watch report.

The goal is to generate money for the city by leasing space at places like Community Maritime Park and the Port of Pensacola.
Everyone is on board with that concept.
The questions and concerns come over the process, and whether or not the city is getting the best deal possible.

A new office building going up on the Community Maritime Park property is the one current development at the port of Pensacola, or at the airport.
That's something that needs to change.

Quint Studer/business owner
"Somebody's got to market this land. We've been waiting for 5-6 years for this to happen."

The Studer Building is a 16-million-dollar project generating big bucks for the city.

Quint Studer/business owner
"If you look at what we pay on our site, we're going to be paying over a $100,000 a year lease fee for the land, which is of course over ten years that's a million dollars. And property taxes alone on a 77,000 square foot, 16 million dollar building; we'll pay $300,000 a year, or three million dollars."

Now take those numbers and imagine another six, seven or eight such buildings on city property.
Mayor Ashton Hayward is recommending a contract with CBRE, an international real estate firm that already has a contract with the state of Florida, to market city properties.
The state contract allows the city to work with CBRE without sending out a request for proposal to all available businesses, a move that's upset real estate professionals like John Griffing with NAI Halford.

John Griffing/president, NAI Halford
"We know that we can compete on a level playing field if we're given a chance, and unfortunately we weren't."

The city cites CBRE's experience and global reach as reasons for going with the company.
CBRE would pay for all marketing materials, taking a four percent commission on any lease payments to the city.
The Pensacola City Council will vote on the issue this week, but is this the best deal for the city?
Could a competitive bid process help the city find a better one?

Charles Bare/Pensacola city councilman
"I understand the strength of doing an RFP. On the other hand, it's a state contract. It's allowable. And I'm hopeful that some of the locals will be brought in under CBRE to assist with the marketing."

Tommy Macks
"It don't bother me, as long as we get money out of it."
J.J. Castleberry
"It's not fair. I think everybody should have a chance for it."

Most people would agree the potential is there for Pensacola to profit from these properties along the waterfront.
The questions are what's the best and most fair way to do that.
With your Waste Watch Report, Will Kennedy, Channel Three News.