Friday, May 6, 2011

URA: Starbucks lease ready to sign

Deal not struck until Cairde Group agrees to terms


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

The future of the visitor center on Sun Valley Road is taking shape following the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency’s approval of a lease proposal Tuesday. Doubt remains, however, because of a threatened lawsuit over the URA’s negotiations with the Cairde Group. Photo by David N. Seelig

The Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency voted 6 -1 on Tuesday afternoon to authorize the chair of the board to sign a revised lease agreement with the Cairde Group, which wants to operate a Starbucks franchise in the visitor center on Sun Valley Road.

Board member Nina Jonas voted against the motion.

The meeting Tuesday was a continuation of Monday's URA meeting in which board members and staff discussed changes and additions to the proposal. Changes are subject to acceptance of the tenant, the Cairde Group.

Restaurateur Keith Perry urged the board to take more time to consider the agreement.

"I'm still kind of shocked you're going so quickly on this," he said. "It's a very complicated document."

Perry also protested the $1.50-per-square-foot rent and URA-paid improvements to the building, which he said were not thoroughly discussed by the board.

URA chair Randy Hall defended the rent, saying he spoke to at least half a dozen real estate professionals.

"They all said $1.50 to $1.75 was within range," he said. "Because the building is 40 years old, $1.50 from their point of view is defensible. None of the people that I spoke to had any problem with the dollar figure."

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Jonas, in explaining her vote, said that $1.50 for an older building doesn't take into account improvements—$120,000 worth—that the URA would provide.

"I have a hard time defending this deal to the business community ... and to the public at large," she said.

"There are other kinds of strategies we should be pursuing," she said.

Board Member Curtis Kemp offered enthusiastic support for the agreement, saying this type of local marketing is as important as marketing to a national and international audience.

"It is extraordinarily important and will reap huge benefits for this business community," he said. "It is with great enthusiasm that I offer an affirmative vote on this proposal."

The Cairde Group must agree to the terms of the revised lease before the proposal can turn into an agreement.

"We are reviewing the lease that was proposed by the [Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency] and it will take time to consider that," Jane Rizzo said Thursday on behalf of the Cairde Group.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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