After five years of vacancy, Carrabelle’s Hexaport building on John McInnis Road has a new tenant.

On Feb. 18, Carrabelle city commissioners voted unanimously to lease the factory to Gulf Unmanned Systems Center (GUSC) after much negotiation.

The 65,000 square foot structure has been vacant modular home manufacturer Greensteel declared bankruptcy in 2009. Centennial Bank took possession of the lease during bankruptcy proceedings against Greensteel. GUSC will buy the lease.

GUSC will pay $10 per year to lease the factory for the first 15 years, after which the cost of rent will be adjusted.

“There is no way Carrabelle can lose in this situation,” Mayor Curley Messer said. “If the business fails, the city gets possession of the building under the contract.”

According to their business plan, GUSC, a Panama City-based company that plans to test both aerial and aquatic robot drones here, will spend almost $900,000 on upgrades and improvements there over the first year.

Bruce MacCormack, CEO of GUSC said he has signed a contract with the bank and the lease will be signed by the middle of next month. He said he will begin cleaning the property immediately because he has already scheduled visits to the facility by important prospective clients.

He said he would begin interviewing applicants for employment with GUSC immediately. He expects to have 10 people the payroll by mid-April, a stipulation called for in GUSC’s lease with the city.