In its push to make East Hampton Airport self-sustaining, East Hampton Town will ink a second six-figure annual lease with a local landscaping company for a plot of industrial-use land adjacent to the airport.
The town board this week approved a 20-year agreement to lease 3.7 acres of land off Industrial Road with Summerhill Landscapes, starting at $120,000 per year.
The lot being leased by Summerhill is directly adjacent to two parcels, totaling about 5 acres, that the town leased to Landscape Details earlier this year for $156,000 annually.
The Summerhill lease is the largest of the remaining lots available for lease at the airport, which were created as part of a light-industrial region on the fringes of the 600-acre airport property. The Maidstone Gun Club and LTV Studios are among the tenants.
In 2001 the FAA did an audit of the rents being charged to lessors and determined that the town had written a number of leases that were far below market value. The town has been increasing rents, sometimes by several thousand percent, on those lots as the leases come up for renewal. In 2014 the Phoenix House’s rent went from $100 a year to $58,000 a year.
Nine lots are still available for lease, ranging from 1 acre to 2.5 acres. There are some two dozen town-owned lots on the airport property, mostly along Industrial Road, that are designated for non-aeronautical uses.
Town Councilwoman Kathee Burke Gonzalez said that the going rate for land at the airport is now between $30,000 and $40,000 an acre, per year.
Like the Landscape Details deal, the Summerhill lease has an initial term of 20 years, and the company will have the right to two 5-year extensions under the lease agreement. Annual rent increases will be set according to increases in the Consumer Price Index.
Leasing the remaining vacant lots at the airport property has been central to the current Town Board’s efforts to establish a revenue base sufficient to support the future maintenance and operation of the airport without the need to seek multi-million-dollar grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, which tie the town’s hands on various management issues, like restricting flight times at the airport.
Earlier this month, the state legislature approved a law that will allow the town to bond for capital improvement projects at the airport, though the law has not yet been signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.