Cape gives Commander official notice to vacate

Thursday, May 19, 2011
Two aircraft are undergoing repairs in the Commander Premier Aircraft Corp. building Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. (Fred Lynch)

Cape Girardeau officials mailed a letter Monday to Commander Premier Aircraft Corp.'s Greg Walker demanding that the failed company vacate the property it has largely occupied rent-free at the regional airport in 30 days.

The letter, signed by city manager Scott Meyer, says the company has failed to make lease payments, even after a letter was sent Jan. 1 giving it one last 60-day notice to fulfill its financial obligations. Commander owes the city $1.2 million in back payments.

"I'm confident this is the right thing to do," Meyer said.

The letter says if Commander fails to vacate the property at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport within 30 days of receipt of the notice, the sublease agreement authorizes the city to enter the leased property and eject all the parties. The letter says that the notice also serves as a termination of the sublease agreement.

Commander chief financial officer Bob Tippens said Wednesday he had yet to see the letter and that company president Walker was unavailable for comment.

"I can't answer any of your questions," Tippens said. "It's our policy to let the president of the company answer all media inquiries."

The letter says the termination of the lease does not mean Commander does not still owe the city money. The company, the letter says, is liable for all of its monetary obligations, including past rent, payments through the end of the lease term and all payments due from the promissory note, which also has a 6 percent interest accruing since the day of issuance until the date of payment.

The city expects the company to vacate the premises "so no further action or legal recourse is necessary by the city," the letter says.

When Commander leaves, it will be the end of a rocky, six-year relationship with the city that began with a promise.

Commander last made a payment in December 2007 and made only eight of its scheduled 59 payments. It didn't produce one plane and has only three or four workers. The city has already gotten out from under the bond payments, with the Cape Girardeau City Council opting to use some of the $2 million from money it received from the Isle of Capri as part of a land sale for the company to build its casino to pay off the bonds.

City officials said at the time that paying the bonds frees up the city to market the 52,000-square-foot hangar, built 10 years ago for failed airplane manufacturer Renaissance Aircraft. Under the bond guidelines, the hangar had to be used for airplane manufacturing. Without those stipulations, the building can be used for a variety of airport-related issues, such as air freight or hangar space.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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