East Hampton Town finalized leases last week with the landscaping company Landscape Details for the lease of two wooded parcels on East Hampton Airport property, for more than $150,000 per year.
The new leases with the landscapers are the first of a handful of new light-industrial lots the town is looking to lease out as part of an effort to maximize revenues from the airport, in hopes of avoiding the need to accept funding from the Federal Aviation Administration for airport maintenance.
The leases approved this week—which will remain subject to a permissive referendum until next month—will give Landscape Details 20-year leases, with options for another 10 years.
Rent for the parcels will start at $156,000 per year, and will increase with the consumer price index each year for the duration of the lease.
The landscaping firm will use the two lots, which total about 5 acres, as storage for its vehicles and heavy equipment and for storing and growing nursery stock. In it’s application to the Planning Board, the company has proposed a 6,200-square foot office building, a 3,600-square foot workshop, five hoop houses for early-season nursery stock and a gravel parking area for work trucks and equipment.
Landscape Details is also in the midst of renovating the former Duke’s restaurant building on Montauk Highway just west of East Hampton Village into a showroom and retail store.
The two properties are entirely wooded still, with dense woodlands, and will have to be largely cleared to make way for the company’s plans. Light industrial lots do not have clearing limits like residential and other commercially zoned lots in the town, except on the portions of the airport property that lie within the Groundwater Recharge Overlay District, which Industrial Road does not. Lot coverage allowance in the light industrial zone is also far greater than on other properties, at 75 percent of the total lot area.
As part of the agreements, the town has pledged to extend the paved portion of Industrial Road, past the entrance to Phoenix House, to accommodate the two new lots to be cleared.
The town leases about a dozen properties in the industrial park fringing the airport tarmac, with nearly as many still undeveloped and available for lease. The town is currently drafting lease agreements for two other lots in addition to the two Landscape Details will take over.
“There’s a lot of interest in those lots out there,” Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said recently, adding that the town has considered posting notices at the airport that there are light-industrial lots, a resource of particular shortage across the South Fork, available for lease.
The leases for the already developed lots along the edge of the airport are also injecting newly robust revenues into the airport’s management budget. After decades of leases being negotiated haphazardly, the FAA several years ago ordered the town to tie any renewals to market values. The handful of renegotiations that have been done basing rents on market rates, have seen gargantuan leaps in rents being collected by the town.
A self storage company’s lease went from $4,500 per year to $112,211. The Phoenix House addiction treatment center’s renegotiated lease took the organization’s rent from just $100 per year, to $59,504 per year. Hertz rental car company’s lease for a small open lot went from $750 per year to $5,000 per year.
Supervisor Larry Cantwell said this week that while the new lease formats were spurred by the FAA, they are something that the town should have or would have taken up itself anyway. He noted that another rental car company has been using airport land to store cars.