When the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office celebrated the opening of its new Palm Coast Precinct at City Marketplace a year ago, two highlights marked the occasion. The precinct was going to be more accessible to the public, and right next to the Palm Coast government offices. And the cost to the sheriff was going to cut the precinct’s bill in half.
The sheriff was to get four months’ free rent, then last July start paying $2,000 a month for the 2,600 square feet at Suite C-107, double the space of the former precinct in a more remote spot on Old Kings Road. Of that, $1,575 was for rent, and $420 to cover the so-called CAM fee, or Common Area Maintenance fee that usually attaches to mall properties. Sheriff Jim Manfre subsequently built his budget accordingly.
At the time, Manfre had no reason to take account of John C. Bills. Now he must.
Six months after that ceremony at City Marketplace, attended as it was by the entire city council and members of the county commission, Palm Beach Gardens-based John C. Bills Properties bought City Marketplace for $2.9 million. The new landlord then went to work, drastically changing some lease agreements that were up for renewal by upping rent so much that several tenants, including the biggest one there–the City of Palm Coast–considered leaving. John C. Bills was looking to increase the rent on Palm Coast’s 20,000 square feet by $138,000 for the year. The city protested and indicated that it would leave the premises before paying that increase, and John. C. Bills backed down. The new agreement on the table now is a $24,000 increase for the year, which the city appears ready to accept.
The city pays no CAM fees. “The City’s lease at City Marketplace has never incorporated a separate CAM fee. It has always been a flat monthly lease rate,” City Clerk Virginia Smith said Wednesday. The renewal agreement on the table does not include a CAM fee.
That’s not the case for the sheriff.
Last week, the Sheriff’s Office received a letter from John C. Bills setting out the new CAM fee request. First, John C. Bills is increasing the CAM fee 212 percent, from $420 a month currently to $1,312.73 per month. Second, the landlord is making the fee retroactive six months to January, and billing the sheriff accordingly. “An additional charge of $5,356.38 will also be reflected in your next statement for this difference due,” the landlord’s Scandie Mick wrote the Sheriff’s Office on June 5.
That’s in addition to the $1,575 monthly rent being charged.
Starting Aug. 1, rent is being increased on the sheriff’s unit by 3 percent, to $1,622.25. But with the CAM fee increase, the sheriff’s monthly costs will increase almost $1,000, and annual costs will go from $24,000 to $35,200.
The sheriff’s office never got notice that CAM fees were to increase before that June letter, Sheriff’s Attorney Sid Nowell said. He reacted the way other tenants have reacted when faced with sudden surges in rent or CAM fees from John C. Bills.
“I don’t think anybody anticipated these kinds of numbers,” Nowell said. “I don’t know what’s caused them to take this kind of approach. Maybe they’re trying to empty the place.”
When contacted by phone Thursday afternoon, Mick said: “Unless my boss authorizes me to speak to the media, I’m not going to be able to talk to you or call you back.” A message left on John Mills’s office phone was not returned.
The Sheriff’s Office may decide not to pay the retroactive CAM fee. “I have no recollection of any ability to retroactively assess the Sheriff’s Office an increase in the CAM fee,” Nowell said. “My recommendation is we don’t pay it at this point in time. So the ball is in the landlord’s court.” Nowell deemed the landlord’s approach “a little unusual way to do business.”
Manfre should have kept the Precinct on Old Kings…oh yeah I forgot it had McCarthy’s name on it!!
Its about time some one can finally gouge the city of Palm Coast and the sheriff’s office. They both have been gouging the citizens of Palm Coast for years. Just saying
Rocky R. says
Yes, because spending more taxpayer dollars (which I assume you contribute to) will really show em’ what for!
Can't talk to you without talking to me says
This is outrageous! Arrest the landlord! But seriously, those offices are no great shakes. There are a lot of other options around here. Just leave and find another place.
John C Bills thinks this is Palm Beach County, city of Palm Beach Gardens… Palm Coast is NOT Palm Beach County nor the city of Palm Beach Gardens. Never will be.
Like I said…John C. Bills…What a guy!
Did Palm Coast thnk that they were the only thieves in town??
Teh ingnorance and naivity of the council renting instead of instead his bitten these neophytes on the nose.
DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH A CREEP> This is $$$ of the people. VACANT THAT DUMP THERE IS A LOT OF SPACE FOR RENT IN PALM COAST
With so much empty space around Palm Coast this new landlord has a lot to lose!
I still think it’s awful that the city can’t purchase their own place to do business in…instead of dealing with corporations that don’t even reside in this county.
Pioneer Man says
The sheriff should refuse those excesses. The landlord should realize that once the city leaves , that marketplace will be deserted, and then who will pay those fees? Just look at all the vacancies. The city should have purchased the complex when it was in bankruptcy. However, it is obvious that the city wants to move the center of the city to Town (or should it be called City) Center.
Oops ties with the city of PC for the county Sheriff not as good as they thought……. Let PC get there own force.
If I were John Bills, I would make sure I drove around Palm Coast very carefully and obeyed every traffic rule.
Ray Thorne says
Fleming had a good relationship with the landlord of the old substation on Old Kings. That’s one of the reasons why he was reluctant to move as well as the future of city market place being shaky at the time. The current sheriff broke the lease on Old Kings to move to City Market Place..now less than a year and a half later, they’ll again look for new digs. Should have just stayed where they were.
There is an empty courthouse in Bunnell standing ready to be occupied.
Nancy N. says
Since the Sheriff is looking for a home for the PALM COAST sub-station, a building in Bunnell isn’t much help, is it?
Why don’t they’move into the new white tower dubbed ‘Landon’s legacy’ that Landon is building?
Oye Vie says
I see a LOT of empty store fronts in the Palm Harbor Shopping Center ( aka The Ghost Center ). Perhaps Napolelon ..I mean Manfre can move his brown boots over their.
Nancy N. says
Apparently you missed the umpteen articles on Flagler Live about how Palm Harbor Shopping Center is being deliberately emptied of tenants so it can be bulldozed and rebuilt?
The city should have bought that place for less than $3 million, had more space than the Taj Mahal they are building for $10 million, and extra rent income to boot from other tenants.
Lewis Roberts says
What did their lease say? I have seen many commercial leases where CAM charges go up based on what percentage of the complex is leased, not based on the percentage that tenant leases of the complex.
For example, if you lease 5% of the whole complex, then you pay 5% of the total CAM charges.
Another not so great example for a tenant… if you are to pay the percentage you lease of the leased spaces. So if half the complex is empty, you technically lease 10% of the complex now. So your CAM charge would double.
Was a bad lease signed originally?
Time to move says
There is a vacant strip mall across the street from “City Marketplace” with ample space. finally make some use of the old Renar Homes… Since it’s our tax dollars at work I say do NOT even waste them on this idiot and MOVE the Sheriff’s Office over there. It’s still accessible to the citizens. The City could have done the same thing and made it a more “home town” feeling. Do not even give this company an opportunity to submit a counter offer. Period.
City should have bought the Market place for 2.9 million and pay of with the rent income from all the stores …would have been a great investment of our tax dollars not the pretentious City Hall at 5 times the price.
Jack Howell says
I wonder what the real “game plan” for Mr. Bills really is. Both of the properties (Roma Court and City Market Place) are destined to become blights in the City of Palm Coast. Is this the plan for Bills? Use these properties as write offs? Nobody in their right mind would lease anything with the outrageous fees being charged by Mr. Bills. Of course, the Code Enforcement folks can make Mr. Bills pay for his greed down the line….if you get my drift. They are sneaky enough to pull it off.
Jim and Sid are skillful attorneys that will figure away out of this high jacking by Mr. Bills. But what about the little guy’s in City Place? I am sure Bills wants them to vacate. That is why I am sure that there must be a method to Bills madness. However, a word to Mr. Bills is in order. Karma will bight you in the ass. Just a matter of time Mr. Bills!
Why not just condemn some of the numerous grow houses around town? Their bank owners would be happy to have them off the books.
We seem to have some shopping center owners who feel they can squeeze tenants out by skyrocketing rents. Maybe it’s time to return the favor by jacking up their taxes and fees?
At least this way they might be forced to sell to an owner more accommodating of the community.
Good For this landlord. This is american and this is opportunity, it will not be empty long. This guy sees what palm coast will be aftert the election and we get the new blood in there to shake things up.. Mayor must go, Landon must go. Lets take our city back from these button shirt wearing thugs.