Milton Martin Honda paid the state $37,250 over four years for the right to park cars on an empty Department of Labor parking lot before buying the building through sealed bids earlier this year, state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said Thursday.
Miller is vice president, general manager and co-owner of the auto dealership. He has been in the state Senate since 2010 and is floor leader for Gov. Nathan Deal.
Miller said the dealership rented the parking lot in 2010. That ended when the dealership bought the European Imports building and property, which “relieved us of the need to park cars” on the government-owned lot, Miller said.
He said the building had been vacant since the Labor Department built a new facility on Atlanta Highway.
He added, “As we continued to grow, we needed (the lot) again” and began paying rent again — for $1,000 a month.
“Every time we had a car there, we paid rent,” Miller said about the state property.
He said a letter to the dealership from the Labor Department said a visit to the property showed “several” vehicles parked on the lot. The letter warned the dealership to quit using the lot for parking.
Miller said that was “no more than a truckload (of cars) that was dropped off in the middle of the night.”
Milton Martin Honda’s use of the parking lot was the subject of an Atlanta TV news report this week.
Miller bought the building, which is about 1.6 acres and 10,000 square feet, in February. He said Milton Martin paid $725,100 plus $5,465 in fees, a total of $730,565.
Miller said two bids were submitted to the Georgia State Properties Commission, one each from Milton Martin and Carriage Nissan.
He said the commission officials opened the bids and asked both bidders if that was their “best and final offer.” He said the bids were opened with “everybody in the room.”
Miller said he went back to the second round with two bids. He submitted $725,100 because the other bidder did not attend the meeting.
He characterized the “best and final” offer request as a routine business for the commission after bids are opened.
Paul Melvin, director of communications for the commission, said, “SPC staff has requested best and final offers for all property sales that had multiple bidders” since June 2015. That is when the commission adopted its policy.
Miller noted the minimum bid for the property, set by the commission, was $565,000.
“It was no bargain, but to me it was worth that because that property joined our property,” Miller said.