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Finish line is near
Lease payments will go toward maintenance
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New College Institute Associate Director/Chief Academic Officer Leanna Blevins (left) and Executive Assistant Melanie Ingram examine a computer Monday in Ingram’s office at the institute’s new building on the Baldwin Block uptown. (Bulletin photos by Mickey Powell)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Lease payments by the New College Institute (NCI) for space in its new building in uptown Martinsville will go toward the building’s upkeep and maintenance costs, according to Executive Director William Wampler.

The three-story, roughly 50,000-square-foot building on the Baldwin Block will be owned by NCI’s private fundraising arm, the New College Foundation. NCI will pay the rent to the foundation.

Construction is nearly finished. A dedication ceremony is set for Sept. 12.

The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC), uptown visitor’s center and Piedmont Governor’s School also plan to be occupants.

NCI and the EDC began moving their offices into the building and setting up furnishings and equipment on Monday. (See related story.) Wampler said he hopes the moves are finished by July 14.

The visitor’s center is moving in and plans to reopen to the public there on Wednesday. But it may not be fully functioning until all of its furnishings and equipment can be installed, NCI Associate Director/Chief Academic Officer Leanna Blevins said, based on what an EDC official told her.

It has not yet been determined how soon the governor’s school will move in, Wampler said.

Still, “the next two weeks are going to be awfully busy,” he said, as the moves occur.

NCI’s lease shows the institute will pay the foundation $383,000 a year for the first two years, in monthly installments of $31,916.67 in state funds. The rent is to increase every two years based on a Consumer Price Index formula that now amounts to 2.29 percent, a document states.

The current amount is based on a cost of about $8.50 per square foot, which is the state’s standard leasing amount, the document shows.

The lease was authorized by the state Department of General Services.

NCI officials acknowledged that the arrangement seems sort of like the institute is paying money to itself, considering that the foundation exists solely to support the institute.

Although the agreement is in the form of a lease, Wampler said the state actually is agreeing to pay the foundation the estimated costs of operating and maintaining the building.

The $383,000 a year is expected to cover those costs, Wampler said.

“When you cut the lights on, somebody has got to pay for it,” he said.

Under the lease, the foundation is to pay all utility, maintenance, janitorial, snow removal and insurance expenses.

Leases are not yet finalized for the EDC and visitor’s center, Wampler said.

The foundation has been providing the governor’s school space in leased facilities at the Jefferson Plaza uptown, for which Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) has been paying $24,000 a year, a document shows.

A lease is not yet finalized for the governor’s school’s space in the Baldwin Block building. PHCC President Angeline Godwin said, though, that the college plans to continue paying approximately the same amount.

Governor’s school students are dually enrolled in high school and at PHCC. When they graduate from high school, they are awarded community college associate degrees along with their diplomas, according to Godwin.

The governor’s school was at PHCC until the college determined a few years ago that it needed the space.

“PH had to displace them,” Godwin said, “and we felt responsible” for finding the governor’s school a new home and paying the rent.

Considering the link between the school and the college, PHCC still feels obligated to pay the rent, she said.

The Virginia Community College System must approve the lease, she added.


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