Commission clarifies pier lease parameters

Commission clarifies pier lease parameters
The new restaurant and bait shop buildings will be built on the T-end of the new City Pier. The new vertical beams shown here will serve as light poles for the pier. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – Mayor Dan Murphy and the city commission have established which portions of the new Anna Maria City Pier will be leased to the current and/or future pier tenant.

On Thursday, Aug. 22, the commission unanimously agreed the city will only lease the new restaurant and bait shop buildings to current pier tenant Mario Schoenfelder – or to a new tenant if a new long-term lease can’t be negotiated with Schoenfelder.

The commission decided the pier’s T-end bathrooms and the T-end decking will be common area shared by the city and its tenant. A contracted property management company will maintain the new pier and the maintenance costs for the shared common areas will be shared by the city and the pier tenant on a pro-rated basis.

The commission also decided the new pier lease will be a triple-net lease that requires the tenant to pay rent, share maintenance costs and pay the insurance and taxes on the leased premises.

On Friday, Mayor Dan Murphy sent Schoenfelder a letter regarding the commission decisions. Schoenfelder has until Sept. 6 to respond as to whether he wishes to continue the lease negotiations based on these new parameters.

“There’s very little value moving forward with discussions on a new lease that would start in December 2020 if Mr. Schoenfelder’s not in agreement with these two issues. These two items are the foundation of a lease,” Murphy told the commission, regarding the premises to be leased and the maintenance of the pier.

Schoenfelder’s current lease expires in December 2020. His lease payments were suspended after the old pier was closed in 2017 due to damage sustained during Hurricane Irma. Schoenfelder’s current lease required him to maintain the entire pier.

The construction of the new pier buildings will begin in September and be completed by year’s end. The interior buildout of the new buildings is expected to take an additional 60 to 90 days.

Murphy was asked later in the week if Schoenfelder can occupy the new buildings until his current lease expires if a new lease is not negotiated. Murphy said there are several possible options to consider, but he’s not ready to discuss them yet.

Schoenfelder lives in Germany and occasionally visits Anna Maria Island. He has not attended a city commission meeting since the old pier was closed.

Commission discussion

During last week’s meeting, Murphy and the commission discussed a July 17 letter Schoenfelder sent Murphy detailing his proposed lease terms. Schoenfelder’s letter was in response to a letter he received from Murphy.

“He feels he should pay $12,000 rent (per month). Secondly, he feels he should have the first six months free,” Murphy said. “He’d like to rent the entire T-end, including the boat landing, but he doesn’t feel he wants to maintain that. He feels parking should be included.”

Murphy noted the city has proposed a $500,000 contribution from the pier tenant, which includes the interior buildout of the restaurant and bait shop. Murphy said Schoenfelder proposes a $250,000 contribution toward the interior buildout.

“The other quarter-million he feels is for his equipment. Our offer does not include equipment. He already had equipment – we helped him carry it off the pier. The equipment is something the restauranteur takes with him if they leave, so I don’t believe the taxpayers should be purchasing $250,000 worth of restaurant equipment,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he needed commission decisions on which portions of the pier premises would be leased to the pier tenant and who would be responsible for the maintenance of the leased and non-leased premises.

“It’s fruitless to go on with conversations unless we can settle those two issues,” Murphy said. “Once you’ve defined the premises and who’s going to maintain the premises you can zero in on what the rent should be, you can zero in on the parking issue, you can come to an agreement on the insurance issues.”

When discussing whether the T-end bathrooms would be leased to the pier tenant, Commissioner Doug Copeland noted they need to remain open 24 hours day.

“I want the city to control as much of the space as possible,” Copeland said.

Murphy said the crew that cleans the City Pier Park restrooms could also clean the pier bathrooms, with the city and the tenant sharing those costs on a pro-rated basis.

In response a question city resident Alan Ward posed during public comment, Murphy said the old bathrooms were open 24 hours a day and maintained by the tenant.

Commissioner Amy Tripp said the past bathroom conditions were “terrible.”

“He failed miserably,” Copeland added.

Regarding maintenance of the pier in general, Copeland said, “I’m not here to bad-mouth Mario, but he’s proven in the past that he’s not good at maintenance.”

“That’s the beauty of the third-party property management; it’ll get done and it’ll be done right,” Murphy said.

Commissioner Dale Woodland agrees that a contracted property management company has the experience and expertise needed to properly maintain the pier and pier buildings – something he said the city and the pier tenant do not possess.

Related coverage

Pier opening discussed

Pier progressing as planned

Aubry files ADA complaint about pier railings