CAMDEN — Camden County will not be able to renew the lease for its library facility at Camden Business Park when it expires in about two years.
County Manager Ken Bowman advised commissioners earlier this month that the lease’s cost increased significantly the last time it was negotiated, rising from $48,583 a year in 2017 to $65,563 a year now.
Most significantly, however, the county’s agreement with the business park’s new owner no longer includes a right of renewal, he said.
“Last year the contract expired and the lease was renewed for two years ending September 2021,” Bowman said. “The owner has already stated they will not renew the lease when it expires.”
The county first agreed to lease 6,800 square feet of office space at Camden Business Park in January 2013 for $38,000 a year. The property was then owned by Tark and Associates and the lease period was for five years.
The property is now owned by Wilport LLC, a company based in Las Vagas, Nevada.
Bowman said the lease expired early last year and throughout the summer and fall the county negotiated with Wilport for better lease terms after learning its costs would rise from $5 a square foot to $13 a square foot.
The rent was negotiated down, first to $10 a square foot and eventually to $8, Bowman said. However, the owner indicated that after the two-year lease was up the county would not be able to renew it. As a result, commissioners approved a two-year renewal of the lease in December that did not include a right of renewal after September 2021.
The information Bowman presented to commissioners about the lease was included in a report on the progress of the county’s proposed administrative complex, which is envisioned as a three-building facility that will include an administrative office building, library and community center.
Bowman said this week that one option for the complex is to include the library as part of a larger community center rather than as a freestanding building. The county has schematic drawings of what the buildings might look like but does not yet have architectural drawings or a solid estimate of what the complex might cost. A previous estimate placed the cost at $10 million.
The money the county is now paying to lease the space for the library can be used in the future to help with financing the complex, Bowman explained.
“When the new library is complete the money used for leasing the current building will be applied to the loan payment for the complex,” he said.