Incubator gets 2-year lease; city still searching for City Hall site

CARLSBAD — One of the city’s most promising partnerships was approved for an additional two-year lease on Jan. 9.

Bio, Tech and Beyond, the life science incubator, and the city agreed to the extension despite uncertainty about whether the Farmer’s building it leases out of will be the site of a new City Hall. Over the previous five years, the lease was extended in one-year increments.

Bio, Tech and Beyond’s lease will increase from the $1 per year it signed five years ago, to $8,820 per year over the next two years. The lease runs from Feb. 1 through Jan. 31, 2020.

Councilwoman Cori Schumacher voted against the two-year lease saying she did not want the city to be on the hook for a lease it could not break, and for owning a property that is going to be sold regardless. While she supports the incubator, Schumacher said if the city decides the Farmer’s building at 2351 Faraday Avenue is the site, then delays and costs could rise for a new City Hall. Also, selling the building make take longer than expected.

Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio said a 90-day escape clause was included in the latest lease.

“We took it into consideration,” Barberio said. “If the Farmer’s property is not the selected site for City Hall, the city would have to sell that property in a fiduciary time frame and return the funds to the CFD. The timing of a two-year lease with selling the Farmer’s property seems to fit well.”

City Manager Kevin Crawford said the city is considering several sites and the decision may take some time, even as long as two years. He also said the first building to be constructed will be for Public Works, although it and the City Hall projects are likely to run concurrently.

The new lease, meanwhile, cuts the amount of money the city spends on the trash bill for the building, among other expenses. According to a staff report, Bio, Tech and Beyond will now be responsible for nearly $9,000 in expenses and will reduce the city’s responsibility to $122,446.87 per year for the property.

Bio, Tech and Beyond opened in 2013 and rents 6,100 square feet in the Farmer’s building. It currently has 18 tenants and has successfully graduated 31 companies including six in 2017, according to the city report. City staff said they couldn’t track where the businesses moved to after graduating from the space.

Some move to a medium-sized space in Vista, where those businesses can grow to six to 20 employees.

“We don’t have an exit requirement,” said Carlsbad Economic Development Director Christie Marcella. “That (Vista) becomes a natural stepping stone for some of the tenants that come out of there.”

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