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Senate approves 30 year lease for NIghthawk

Senator Satele Aliitai Lilio
Lease specifically prohibits company from operating a ‘nightclub’

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Senate unanimously approved the government 30-year land lease for Nighthawk formerly dba Vanna Grill.

According to the lease, ASG agreed to extend the lease beyond 9 years for a period of 30-years from Mar. 01, 2015 to Feb. 28, 2045.

During the hearing this past week the Governor’s Legal counsel, Kristi Baxton appeared to testify.

Senator Tuiagamoa Tavai inquired whether the payments to extend the lease had been received?  However Braxton was unaware. “I do not have personal knowledge of their payments, but I do understand that there is an issue with payment until the lease is approved, but this lease was recommended for approval by the Attorney General’s office in their investigation,” she said.

Senator Satele Aliitai Lilio also expressed his concerns over the terms of the lease. “I can see from the terms of the lease that a payment of $650 is required every month for 30 years, so obviously it is a long term lease. I am concerned by the rent amount, which is $650 a month.

“Is the office of the AG talking about revisiting the lease at least every 5 years... because the cost of living goes up every year, this raises a flag for all government leases because the government is losing out, and that is my concern.

“Do you have a plan, or is there a plan by the AG or the governor’s office to scrutinize and examine this lease? It is government land and it’s entitled to the use of our local businesses operating this lease,” asked Senator Satele.

Baxton explained that the current lease does include an increase in the rent amount from $530 a month to $650 a month.

The Legal Counsel also informed the Senate that she did not conduct a site visit of the lease property located in Satala.

Utu Sila Poasa echoed the same concerns.

As reported by Samoa News, the Administration previously introduced a measure to amend the land lease between ASG and Nighthawk — formerly d/b/a Vanna Grill — for land in Atu’u for a period of 30-years, with provisions of the lease specifically prohibiting the company from operating a ‘nightclub’ on the premises.

Under local laws, any government lease that is 10 years or more is subject to Fono review and endorsement.

According to the measure, in June 2015, ASG (the lessor) and Peni Alenepi, Savana Wulf, and Peter Wulf d/b/a Vanna Grill (the lessee) executed a lease agreement for 9 years ending on Feb. 28, 2024.

In January this year, the Administration submitted for Fono consideration the amendment of the original lease agreement between ASG and Nighthawk — formerly Vanna Grill. The portion of ASG land in Atu’u is known as “Anua”.

The new lease requires the lessee to pay $650 in advance on the first-day of each month, and this began on Oct. 01, 2022. (The original payment was $550.)