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With Bay Ford in new hands, what happens to land?

Bay Ford has a new owner and name, but questions linger about who will own and maintain the property on which the dealership sits, going forward.

Kin Quisenberry, over the weekend, sold the dealership to a corporation owned by Bruce Titus, owner of the Bruce Titud Automotive Group.

The dealership now carries the name Bruce Titus Port Orchard Ford.

Titus didn’t, however, purchase the Bay Street property.

The Quisenberrys still own most of the dealership’s land, and the city of Port Orchard also owns a small piece.

Before the sale, the Quisenberrys rented a small portion of property at the end of a nearby street from the city of Port Orchard.

“They paid $13,000 per year in rent,” said Greg Jacoby, the city’s attorney. “As part of the business transaction, they needed to assign that lease, and the city needed to consent.”

Quisenberry and Titus signed the agreement, when the business was sold, but the city did not.

“Technically they have an invalid lease assignment, because the city has not yet consented,” Jacoby said.

He noted that his legal office reviewed the deal and “had some concerns.”

“Typically, when a lease is assigned,” Jacoby explained, “the original tenant and the new tenant are both responsible for rent. The new tenant is responsible because they are occupying the space now, and they pay the rent to, in our case, the city.

“If they fail to,” he said, “then the original tenant, under the standard lease terms, is obligated to step in and pay rent.”

But it’s the exact opposite in this case.

“The original tenant is responsible for rent to the city,” Jacoby said, “and if the new tenant fails to pay, the city can’t do anything to that new tenant. It’s precisely the opposite of what you want.”

Jacoby’s office redrafted the lease, and will present the new draft to Titus’ lawyers.

“When we redrafted the assignment for the consent, we tried to make it clear that the new tenant is legally obligated to pay the rent just like the old tenant,” Jacoby said, “but that’s not what got signed.”

Rental discussions won’t impact the sale of the business to Titus.

“This discussion in no way is holding up the transaction,” Jacoby said, “because the transaction closed.”

In the meantime, Bay Ford also plans to maintain ownership of its portion of the land until it can clean up some toxic waste that was dumped on the property before Kin and John Quisenberry bought the land.

“There’s some heating oil, and some small contamination that got there by a previous business,” said Kin Quisenberry. “My brother and I are entering into a voluntary cleanup program, and as soon as that’s cleaned up, Mr. Titus will buy the property.”

Quisenberry described the cleanup as “a pretty big expense,” and he expects the work to last for about five years.

After that, he said, he expects Titus to buy his portion of the property.

“He’s very excited about growth in the downtown Port Orchard area,” Quisenberry said.

Quisenberry added that he feels good about the idea of selling his business of 52 years to Titus.

“Bruce Titus is a young man in his 40s,” Quisenberry said. “He has a nice family, and they’re very enthusiastic about buying the Ford dealership.

“He runs very good dealerships,” he continued, and “he’s very enthusiastic about the potential of downtown Port Orchard.”

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