WINSLOW — The Town Council will consider renewing a lease agreement with Johnny’s Selected Seeds for almost 46,000 square feet of office and warehouse space in a town-owned business complex on Benton Avenue.

The seed company houses its order shipping center at the industrial building and has been in the space since 2003. The company’s current lease with the town expires in June. The council voted on a first reading of the new lease terms in December and will hold a second and final vote at its meeting Monday.

The renewed lease is for six years with the option to renew for four consecutive three-year terms.

The annual rent for the space is $102,576. Under the terms of the lease, the rent will increase 2 percent every two years, starting in 2017. After additional rent and taxes, the company would pay $145,207 to the town in 2017, according to town records. The town collects fees from the business in place of real estate taxes that would be paid on the properties.

Town Manager Michael Heavener said he was not sure how Johnny’s rent compared to market rates for industrial space.

“In talking with the two tenants there, I get the impression we are competitive. They are happy and pleased with the lease payments,” Heavener said.


Johnny’s leases 45,900 square feet of the 81,500-square-foot building, Heavener said. The space is split between office and warehouse space. The building serves as Johnny’s order fulfillment center, where it ships seed orders across the country. Orion Ropeworks shares part of the building Johnny’s is in and leases the second building at the industrial center.

The employee-owned seed company has been in business since 1973 and employs about 200 people. Aside from its Winslow headquarters, Johnny’s has a farm in Albion where it experiments with seeds.

The town leases 147,800 square feet to Orion Ropeworks, which will pay $348,141 in annual rent in 2017, when its lease with the town runs out.

Winslow found itself in ownership of the large industrial space after Crowe Rope, which owned the space, went bankrupt in 2000.

According to articles published in the Morning Sentinel at the time, Winslow borrowed $6 million to help the company retrofit the property. At the time Crowe went bankrupt, the company owed the town $1 million in back taxes and debt payments and Winslow still has $5.1 million to repay on the loan.

As part of the bankruptcy, Winslow took ownership of the industrial buildings, sold the Crowe assets to Orion and agreed to lease the property. A portion of the revenue generated from the leased buildings goes to the bond repayment, and the rest goes toward municipal expenses.


According to Heavener, the town is due to make its final bond repayment of $309,000 in 2017. After that, all the rent collected by the town will be revenue it can apply to town expenses.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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