published Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Marion County approves Chattanooga State lease for new campus

The new Marion County Regional Institute of Technical Excellence in Kimball, Tenn., has an official occupant pending some minor changes to one lease agreement.
The Marion County Commission voted unanimously last week to approve two lease agreements with Chattanooga State for the first building on the campus and part of the Regional Skills Center site along Battlecreek Road that the school currently occupies in Kimball.
The new Marion County Regional Institute of Technical Excellence in Kimball, Tenn., has an official occupant pending some minor changes to one lease agreement. The Marion County Commission voted unanimously last week to approve two lease agreements with Chattanooga State for the first building on the campus and part of the Regional Skills Center site along Battlecreek Road that the school currently occupies in Kimball.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. -- The new Marion County Regional Institute of Technical Excellence in Kimball, Tenn., has an official occupant pending minor changes to a lease agreement.

The Marion County Commission voted unanimously last week to approve two lease agreements with Chattanooga State Community College for the first building on the campus and part of the Regional Skills Center site along Battlecreek Road that the school now occupies in Kimball.

The new building is 12,000 square feet, which is the same amount that Chattanooga State will vacate at its current location, and County Mayor John Graham said the lease terms will be basically identical to the old one.

"The leases are based on the same amounts of square footage that [Chattanooga State] is paying for now," he said. "There are two separate structures, so there are two separate leases."

Chattanooga State now pays the county $135,000 per year to lease 18,000 square feet of space for its satellite campus.

Graham said the school will still occupy "certain portions" of the old Skills Center until the county is able to construct a planned second building on the new campus along U.S. Highway 41 that will house industrial trades classes such as welding.

Commissioner Wayne Willis said he wasn't happy that the county will not get any more money for the new building than it's getting now.

"We build them a new building, and we get no more money for it," he said. "We've still got 18,000 square feet to lease, but 6,000 is in a separate building and that keeps us from being able to lease that remaining space [in the old building] to anybody else."

The county has leased the Regional Skills Center building to Chattanooga State for more than 20 years, Commissioner Tommy Thompson said, and it's a relationship that has worked well for both sides.

"The county doesn't have a nickel in that thing," he said. "Chattanooga State's rent has paid for that [building]."

Thompson said he believed that the county will get enough money out of the leases to pay the loan for the new building, but Graham confirmed that it will not cover the entire cost of the bond issue used to construct it.

"The citizens of this county and their children are going to get a big benefit out of this new tech school," Thompson said. "If we can do this without it costing the citizenry of this county, I've got no problem with it."

Officials said the lease at the Regional Skills Center building does not specify which portions of it can be used by Chattanooga State.

Commissioner Donald Blansett said that lease should "detail exactly what they're leasing," so the county will have the opportunity to lease the vacated portion to some other organization.

"I don't think [Chattanooga State] would have a problem with that," Graham said. "I think that's something they'd be willing to do."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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