Development Authority votes to buy Meredian property

Published 10:43 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Development Authority of Bainbridge and Decatur County voted Thursday to move forward to purchase the 100-acre, 1 million square foot facility formerly occupied by Propex and currently occupied by Meredian Holdings Group (MHG).
MHG would remain in the building, located in the Decatur County Industrial Park, leasing it from the IDA. Amkin Bainbridge, LLC, a Miami-based company controlled by Ramon Llorens, an investor in MHG, presently owns the facility after purchasing the property from Propex in April 2014. MHG is leasing the facility from Llorens presently.
According to Development Authority Executive Director Rick McCaskill, Llorens paid $3.5 million for the property and the IDA would pay $3.68 million. The property is appraised at $10 million, according to McCaskill.
“This situation has been difficult and MHG wants to do something different and they came to us, asking us to buy the building and lease it back to them,” McCaskill explained. “They have $6-8 million in private investment funds lined up and if we purchase the building, they have agreed to go ahead and install needed equipment and begin hiring more people. By us doing this, it would jump start this process by at least a year,”
Several local banks have committed to participate in financing the purchase with no money down on a 15-year term, provided that either the City of Bainbridge or Decatur County participate with the IDA. The deal would be “pass through” financing with MHG making the note payments.
IDA board member Jason Lee asked McCaskill why MHG couldn’t buy the building with their own money.
“They can do it with their own money, but they can’t purchase the facility and get all the equipment they need to get up and going at the same time. All this is doing is making it happen quicker,” McCaskill replied.
Keith Lyle, board chairman, said he believed that, if nothing else, the purchase would be a sound real estate transaction and would insure the IDA would control the building in the event that MHG ceased operations.
“If we don’t agree to do this and Meredian, for whatever reason, went away, we now have an industrial building that we are trying to fill with a tenant, owned by someone in Miami with no real interest in the community. That would be a real problem,” Lyle said.
Lee offered more candid discussion, “I struggle with this. I feel this community has helped this company a lot. I would think we might be better to save our capacity to help another prospect.”
“I agree that we don’t need to put all our eggs in one basket, and I don’t think there is a more conservative person here than me, but I am excited about the possibilities with Meredian. My vote will be yes, that we do this,” said board member Dr. Jon McRae.
Board member Mike Conder made the motion to move forward with purchasing the building and leasing it back to Meredian, with Ted Martin making the second. The vote was unanimous to proceed with the purchase.

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