Century Rejects $240K Offer For Vacant Industrial Property

May 21, 2019

A $240,100 deal is dead that would have seen the first tenant in over a decade in the former Helicopter Technology building in Century.

West Florida Gin Manager Robert Earl Godwin and businessman Larry Baxley, who are in the process of setting up North Escambia Warehouse and Storage, LLC, made a preliminary lease-to-own offer on the town-owned building  at $4,000 per month for five years, for a total of $240,000. The company would make an $8,000 deposit, pay the first month’s rent in advance, and pay for any upgrades to the building.

At the end of the lease term, they would be able to buy the building for $100, a proposed lease agreement prepared by the town’s attorney stated.

A motion by council member Boutwell Monday night to proceed with negotiations and work on an agreement failed on a 3-2 vote with council members James Smith, Sandra McMurray-Jackson and Luis Gomez voting against.

“It doesn’t look like there is a next step,” Council President Ann Brooks said.

The West Florida Gin planned to use about half of the warehouse space for cotton storage because the longtime Walnut Hill business has outgrown its storage space. Baxley said there is a “tenant we have in mind at the moment” for the remainder of the space, a move that  would have required additional council approval for a sub-lease.

The cotton storage would likely not create any jobs, which was one major concern for some council members.

“I don’t see the benefit for us,” Smith said. “Where’s the employment?”

In 2017, the building was appraised for $550,000 with a fair market rent of $80,000 per year ($6,667 per month).

Smith and Gomez expressed concerns that if the council were to lease the building below market value, the town would not have any available industrial space if another company wanted to located in Century with new jobs.

“Someday it could produce jobs, even it’s 10-15 jobs for Century,” Gomez said.

“Let’s talk about y’all’s track record and my track record,” Baxley said after pointing out that no company had seriously considered the building in the past decade but he had developed several similar properties.  “For 46 years now, I’ve been making payroll.”

The former Helicopter Technology building is a 40,000 square foot office/warehouse building with full climate control, sprinkler system, new HVAC and energy efficient lighting. The town re-acquired the industrial building at public auction for less than $1 out of pocket back in August 2009,  following the town’s foreclosure judgment against the now defunct Helicopter Technology.

Businessman Larry Baxley (pictured top photo on left) listens to the Century Town Council shoot down his lease-to-own offer for the former Helicopter Technology industrial building (pictured below). NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


44 Responses to “Century Rejects $240K Offer For Vacant Industrial Property”

  1. Merry on May 22nd, 2019 7:36 pm

    Don’t forget that this would generate property tax revenue that is currently not being received as well as possible utilities revenues for the town. Is the town expending resources to keep it mowed and keep vagrants our? The renter would fix it up on his own dime. Come on. Seems like they would try to negotiate something to get a tenant in there.

  2. Byrneville resident on May 22nd, 2019 5:29 pm

    Would YOU give away your own personal property for HALF of its value??? People need to think through their comments before posting them. You need to know the history of this building, and realize that they didn’t just “fall into” a great deal for $1.00.

  3. northend resident on May 22nd, 2019 2:45 pm

    While your at it, you need to put the house that is suppose to serve as the Century Welcome Centure up for sale. That is nothing but a waste of revenue that could assist with paying taxes and etc…..

    Century has a new business that is about to open up with a beautiful mural painted on the side, place some brochures there for anyone to see when they stop, probles

  4. northend resident on May 22nd, 2019 2:39 pm

    We live outside of the city limits, but we have a Century mailing address. Sure wished us country folks could participate in the voting system there, maybe we could help the city residents in cleaning up the town council and get Century back to thriving again and restore their reputation.

    Those who voted it down, you are just being plain greedy and foolish!

  5. On the Corner on May 21st, 2019 11:13 pm

    I was told Larry was the young man that stopped me and my sis from writing our names in the concrete when Grandad poured the floor of the garage in 1972. Grandad told him to get over it.
    Rent him the building.

  6. Just saying on May 21st, 2019 8:25 pm

    A bird in the hand…….

    Ah forget about it. It’s Century. Why would anyone want to locate there??

  7. BIG JOHN on May 21st, 2019 7:55 pm


  8. Mr. O on May 21st, 2019 4:45 pm

    So, correct me if I’m wrong.

    Century has a building that is sitting vacant, not producing ANY revenue, and not creating ANY jobs.

    Along comes a business that, in all actuality, only wants to lease HALF of said building for $240,000 for 5 years…..AND there was already a tenant in mind for the other half of the building (With the unstated potential to create local jobs).

    I just don’t think the Century government and counsil are good even at the simplest form of economics. Here let me help……


    Get those clowns out of there. They have no business being in the positions of power that they’ve swindled themselves into.

  9. john on May 21st, 2019 2:45 pm

    What is the number one rule in real estate??? Location! Location! Location! As far as the data goes, Century is probably a higher risk for many types of industry to locate there.

  10. Nonsense on May 21st, 2019 12:35 pm

    Change the motion and bring it again. Three members of the council have formed a voting block about this type of mentality that government leaders should create jobs for the community and they vote with the Mayor. It’s a lay over from the company town boss and the plantation mentality.
    You are supposed to be managing the town like an incorporation, a business
    Wake up.
    Look around. This was money for the incorporation.
    People should create their own business. Baxley is a good example.

    Can you imagine what he has to say about this vote?

  11. chris on May 21st, 2019 11:08 am

    Market value (based on current rates) and Century value (based on reality) or not the same. Even at a reduced rate, lese to own would have at l;east generated cash flow for Centiry. Or do they no recognize cash flow when they see it?

  12. Haha on May 21st, 2019 11:02 am

    Larry Baxley and Robert Earl Godwin are much too legit of businessmen to be able to work a deal on that building. It would be a straight forward transparent solid deal… Century is looking for some shadowy company from out of state that can offer a few jobs, but more importantly, have some complicated underhanded deal where money can somehow get skimmed or lost.

  13. William on May 21st, 2019 11:02 am

    >>>The town acquired this building and all of its contents in a private auction in which only the town of century knew about or attended and took over this property for the amount of $1

    Not quite.

    The town owned the building, sold it to Helicopter Technology and foreclosed when the company skipped out. The town held a court judgement against the company. It was sold at a public auction at the courthouse. No other bidders showed up, so the town got it for a buck.

  14. Just Saying on May 21st, 2019 10:15 am

    So let me get this straight. The town acquired this building and all of its contents in a private auction in which only the town of century knew about or attended and took over this property for the amount of $1.00 and somehow $240,000.00 is not a good price for the building?

    Forget the state its time to bring in the feds to do a full investigation lets look at everything for the last 10 to 20 years. If there was criminal wrong doing let those responsible reap the consequences and go to prison.

  15. Ten Years... on May 21st, 2019 10:11 am

    The fact that the building has been empty for so long seems to show there is no other interest. It would have been nice to see another company come to Century. Perhaps they have a better plan…

  16. Chris on May 21st, 2019 10:01 am

    sounds like to me that Century needs a new town council that will do whats best for town

  17. Ron on May 21st, 2019 9:52 am

    I think the council made a good decision. Lease-to-own is a great deal for the business men and a poor deal for Century. Leasing the building at less than market value in the current situation would be a good deal for Century and the business men. If the business men need the space they should do their civic duty and agree to a term limited lease without any move towards ownership. Many folks in the county would love to acquire a commercial property just by leasing it for half price for 5 years.

  18. Kevin Stead on May 21st, 2019 9:52 am

    A wise man once said ” Don’t sacrifice the future on the altar of the present.” Could Century use the money? Absolutely. The building is a very nice structure and the appraisal seems very legit. To let it go for such a low offer would be a mistake and, for what? To place a band-aid on an open wound? Century doesn’t have a lot to offer to attract a potential business. The last thing it needs to do is give away one of the very few bargaining chips it has available.

  19. Nearby Neighbor on May 21st, 2019 9:37 am

    WOW. Once again Century is making a mistake. When will The Town stop hurting itself?

    This building has been vacant for 10 years. Open your eyes Century residents and VOTE these people out of office.

    CENTURY is the laughingstock of our area!!

  20. Bob on May 21st, 2019 8:55 am

    Let me think…

    You have a 300 year loan that has 298 years left on it, you make personal loans to board members, you have a building that has been vacant for 10 years and you paid $1 for it, your payroll checks bounce, you buy trucks you cannot afford, you “lose” 50% of your natural gas, your town is bankrupt and…

    you said no to $240,000…


  21. CW on May 21st, 2019 8:52 am

    I don’t often agree with Century, but I’m inclined to with this. Baxley would be getting the property for half the appraised value at zero interest, which is a steal in my book. Would any of you sell your home for half of what it appraises for? I don’t think so.

  22. Century resident on May 21st, 2019 8:51 am

    Century is ao n poor and run down, what prosperous company would want to come here anyway?

  23. tina smith on May 21st, 2019 8:47 am

    Seems negotiations need to open up. If it appraised for 550K, then the 240K
    (over 5 years) isn’t a great offer. 240K paid in full at closing would still be less than half of the appraisal. I understand its the only offer, so both sides need to move some to come to an agreement.

  24. Bama Bob on May 21st, 2019 7:55 am

    And the band played on.

  25. Kevin on May 21st, 2019 7:41 am

    Smith said I don’t see the benefit for us….why can’t these people see past their nose? You would have had $4000/ month coming in with the building being used as storage for cotton. Right now, the building is being used to store AIR and is bringing in $0/ month. $4000/ month for a lease on a storage facility is well within market value for Century. What they could have done is allocated the money received from the lease and at the end of the 5 year term used that money to bring the facility up to code where the building could actually start being used. Council, you are hurting the Century community and I believe residents will remember this next election.

  26. TMBJ on May 21st, 2019 7:14 am

    Someone needs to explain to Mr. Smith, that the employment lays in the cause and effect of occupying the building. Such as, the trucks that transport the cotton, will need fuel, therefore the gas stations can benefit from increase and need more employees. The drivers will need a place to eat, local restaurants will see an increase business. And in the end, the Town will have some type of revenue to offset the fact that it’s broke. Gomez, Smith and Ms. McMurray needs to invest in a civic economics class. I said it before and I will say it again, the only two individuals on the city council that have any clue as to what they are doing is Mr. Boutwell and Ms. Brooks. The building is old and what type of business do the Town think they will attract, besides of Gomez welcome Center that will be a complete failure. The building is too small and has not type of curb appeal, not type of resting area, not type of energy. Eventually the mural will become old!! Clearly these are individuals that have no idea as to what they are doing.

  27. Ruthie on May 21st, 2019 7:14 am

    One thing Century is consistent about is bad decisions! There are no plans in the works to make the place inviting to job creators! Honest money thrown out the window in hopes of something better? Really? These people have cut their own throats again! SMH

  28. M in Bratt on May 21st, 2019 7:10 am

    I would still love to know what commercial/industrial realtor is marketing this and the rest of the industrial property Century has to offer?

  29. Yetagain on May 21st, 2019 6:48 am

    And again, Century is the laughing stock of Escambia County.

  30. tg on May 21st, 2019 6:40 am

    They might be thinking BINGO PARLOR.

  31. Things that make you go hmm on May 21st, 2019 6:37 am

    Mr Baxley made a very valid point… compare their track records. He’s probably realized already he’s better off not getting into any business doings with the town of Century. It’ll probably sit empty another ten years. Oh well, if Century ever votes some sense into the town council seats they MIGHT make some progress or see some improvement.

  32. Okay on May 21st, 2019 6:30 am

    The town counsel would rather the property be caught up in a deal with a less established business. That way they can repossess the building when the business fails– Century can make a few dollars off the lease and keep the building.

  33. Oh my! on May 21st, 2019 6:20 am

    What company wants to locate to Century? None!!!! Take the offer.

  34. Brian on May 21st, 2019 6:19 am

    $240,100 and Century paid $1. I too see no benefit to Century!

  35. sam on May 21st, 2019 6:03 am

    geeeez! really? at the risk of my post being deleted i will just say, “what are you people thinking?”

  36. John on May 21st, 2019 5:59 am

    I’m not sure even if a business wanted to move to Century they would be able to close on a deal.

  37. SW on May 21st, 2019 5:21 am

    Anyone ever heard of ‘a bird in the hand…’?

    Seriously, the town needs to be disbanded and assets sold off.

  38. Gman on May 21st, 2019 5:10 am

    Ill stand behind the track record of Larry Baxley before i’d stand behind the Century City Council

  39. IMHO on May 21st, 2019 5:03 am

    SMH. again

  40. Tom on May 21st, 2019 4:22 am

    That’s what’s wrong with century you got complete idiots trying to run it they probably got some corrupt stuff they going to do with it like every thing else

  41. Brian on May 21st, 2019 3:32 am

    I guess they never heard the old saying, better a fast penny then a slow dollar. So glad I don’t live in that backward town.

  42. Oversight on May 21st, 2019 2:26 am

    There is actually an offer to take the building and do something with it and the town balks? SMH. At this point anything anyone offers would be a win for Century. Looks like West Florida Gin needs to invest in the west side and forget about short sighted Century.

  43. Forrest Gump on May 21st, 2019 1:43 am

    Mama always said, stupid is as stupid does.

  44. Billy Bob Joe on May 21st, 2019 12:53 am

    WHAT? They would rather leave it sitting there than get ANYTHING from it. I question whether anyone would ever come to Century, FL with idiots like these wrapping them up in red tape.

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