Resident leasing space for his transportation business
The Mounds View City Council unanimously supports a one-year lease agreement for a startup company at the community center.
At the Jan. 14 City Council meeting, Economic Development Specialist Heidi Steinmetz said there is approximately 1,330 square feet of office space available for lease at the Mounds View Community Center. The available space consists of a large space and two mall offices.
The Twin Cities North Chamber of Commerce formerly occupied the larger space. Mike Thompson, owner of Outreach Transportation Services, LLC, is interested in leasing the two small offices that have been vacant for several years.
Steinmetz said the new company provides non-emergency transportation services for people in wheelchairs. Thompson, a Mounds View resident, bought a vehicle to transport his mother to her appointments and thought he could make a business out of providing the service to others.
He has received a certificate of organization from the Minnesota Secretary of State. A background check was completed and nothing came back, Steinmetz said.
She added that Thompson thinks the community center is a perfect fit because of the nature of his business. He will keep his vehicle at his residence and plans to hire his first employee, another driver, soon.
Thompson was not able to attend the Jan. 14 council meeting because he was very ill. Steinmetz said he may be able to attend the Jan. 28 council meeting.
The city of Mounds View’s current lease rate for the community center office space is $10 per square foot, and the two small offices total about 330 square feet. The gross monthly rent for Thompson would be $275 a month, plus $37.50 in Internet fees. Steinmetz calculated the cost by multiplying $10 by $330 and dividing $3,300 by 12 months.
She said Thompson has offered to submit six months of rent in advance, plus Internet services fees. The term of the lease is one year, but Thompson requested that the council consider the option to extend the lease at the end of the first year by three more years at the same rate. City staff did not recommend that change to the lease.
“I like the idea of the lease agreement with a yearly option to renew,” said Councilmember Carol Mueller.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” she said. “I think it’s an awesome fit for the space and a terrific service to the community. I think it will be well received by the community.”
“In general, I’m in favor of offering the opportunity of the extended lease,” said Councilmember Gary Meehlhause. However, he said he’s concerned with no increase in rent being proposed when the city’s costs for heat and electric could increase.
“If our costs go up, it seems like there should be some appropriate adjustment to the rent to cover the cost,” he said. “With a long-term lease, isn’t there some type of possible inflation adjustment factored as part of the agreement?”
Finance Director Mark Beer said that is the case for all for the city’s leases.
Mayor Joe Flaherty said it’s a good idea to go with a one-year lease and review it at the end of the year.
“Let’s give him the opportunity to build his business without encumbering him with a four-year lease,” he said.
Thompson also asked the council to approve the office hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, including holidays.
The draft of the lease states that the tenant can access the community center only when it is open to the public. The center’s hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
“Staff doesn’t think that is so unreasonable,” Steinmetz said of Thompson’s office hours. “I think it’s more unreasonable to limit a business’s hours.”
City Administrator Jim Ericson noted that the other businesses in the community center are allowed extended hours.
“Let’s look at the lease again when it comes up for renewal and see if it’s a viable business a year from now,” said Councilmember Sherry Gunn.
The council’s consensus was to move forward with a one-year lease agreement and extended office hours. A resolution will return to the council when the draft lease is revised. The lease’s commencement date is Jan. 15.
– The City Council unanimously accepted the introduction and first reading of an ordinance that amends the city code to increase the size of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission from seven to nine members. The Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission recommended the increase, which was directed by the council.
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