Port of Walla Walla to buy property as part of plan to preserve Martin Archery

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WALLA WALLA — The Port of Walla Walla is extending a lifeline to help a floundering Martin Archery.

In a unanimous decision Monday, the three Port commissioners authorized the purchase of 4.67 acres of Martin Archery property off Heritage Road for $1.3 million. The price is $400,000 less than the original listing price.

The decision, subject to several conditions, would relieve some of the debt Martin owes to creditors and paves the way for the Port to lease the property to a new limited liability company that plans to take over the bow manufacturing operations.

A new 10-year lease with the LLC affiliated with California-based private equity firm Diversis Capital LLC was on Monday’s special agenda. However it was not approved.

Commissioners “want to take a harder look at the lease itself” before moving forward, Commissioner Paul Schneidmiller said this morning. He anticipates it could come up at a Port meeting Wednesday, rescheduled from Thursday.

The strategy is designed to help save a financially strapped Martin, down to 20 employees from a peak of about 100 in its 60-plus years as a local business.

The Port’s involvement is no stretch for the economic development agency whose mission is the creation and retention of family-wage jobs in Walla Walla County, Schneidmiller said.

“This goes back to business retention,” he said. “We’re talking about 20 jobs for a business that has been in the community for decades.”

Under Diversis, the 20-person workforce would likely grow quickly, particularly with a backlog of orders for Martin bows, he said.

The property acquisition includes the 58,284-square-foot manufacturing, warehousing and office; a 1,280-square-foot single-family residence; and the surrounding land.

Monday’s meeting was attended by Martin Archery Chief Executive Officer Tim Larkin, who made a presentation advocating for the Port’s land buy. Dan Martin, a son of Martin Archery’s late founder Gail Martin, was also in attendance.

The purchase is contingent on a number of conditions.

Among them: Port legal counsel must approve the purchase and sale agreement; all liens must be removed from the property; standard purchase and seller costs must be used to close the transaction; and the Port must confirm it is purchasing all parcels described in the property appraisal report.

Key in the conditions is the signing of a lease agreement with a new tenant. That includes receipt of a rental surety deposit. The new tenant must also have insurance covering the full replacement value of the premises. Details of the lease are expected to be worked out quickly, Port officials have said.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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