- Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 18:18
- Published on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 00:18
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King George Supervisors are expected to approve an extension requested by Froncé Wardlaw on behalf of Project FAITH’s proposed HELP Center at an upcoming meeting.
At last week’s meeting on Feb. 5, Cedell Brooks, Ruby Brabo and John LoBuglio stated they were in favor of granting the extension, with Dale Sisson and Joe Grzeika saying they had reservations. That was the same split that took place on May 1, 2012, when the Supervisors passed the motion on the land giveaway on a split vote of 3-2.
That’s when 5.53 acres of prime real estate fronting on Route 3 (Kings Hwy) was voted to be given to Project FAITH. The land is located in the county’s new Government Center east of Route 205 (Ridge Road). It is across from the new Sheriff’s office building.
Wardlaw provided an annual report on the day of the meeting. Under the terms of the performance agreement, that report had been due “on or before the last day of each calendar year.”
Wardlaw asked for the contract extension to be pushed because she cannot meet a contract deadline to have footings poured by Feb. 28. A construction bid has not been advertised because Wardlaw is behind in gaining funding for the project.
Wardlaw is requesting to put off that deadline until Aug. 1, saying the extension of time is to “recoup lost time in receiving site control.”
There was an actual delay from the date of approval of May 1, to the time Wardlaw says she received ‘recordable documents,’ which she said was on July 28, 2012. But both the ‘Deed of Gift’ and the ‘Performance Agreement’ were signed by all relevant parties, including Wardlaw on or before June 28, 2012.
John LoBuglio confused the issue by saying, “I would like to point out that there were seven months lost, though she’s only asking for six months extension in time.”
Chairman Dale Sisson corrected him, saying, “I think asking for a contract extension is one thing, but calling it a seven-month delay would be inaccurate.” He also added, “I brought up the term of the contract to make sure we were speaking in facts and not to argue a position one way or the other.”
Cedell Brooks said, “I don’t see what it’s going to hurt to grant an extension. It’s not costing us anything. And if we’ve got three votes to do it, I think we should go ahead and approve it, so they can move along.”
Joe Grzeika suggested if there was an issue last year, it should have been brought up to the board sooner. “So they’re asking for a modification to the performance agreement.”
Interim county attorney Jeff Gore concurred, saying, “I do agree that these amendments would have to be officially approved by the board to amend the contract and the deed.”
Sisson said he had another concern. “I still have the concerns about their ability to execute this contract. So when you have these concerns, they just need to be taken seriously, I believe,
I have concerns about their ability to execute and deliver on this great plan.”
He asked how solid the funding was for the project, referring to a sheet included in Wardlaw’s handout.
Wardlaw responded, saying, “The New Market Tax Credits (listed at $1,720,000) are pretty shored up. We feel pretty confident about the CDBG application going forward (listed at $70,000). Obviously, the deferred developer fees (listed at $750,000) would be coming from Project FAITH as what we’d give toward the project. We’ve valued the land and we’ve assessed a value to that and we would leverage that in with the deal. The Union First Market (listed at $4,000,000) – that will be some bank, if not Union First Market, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t secure that.”
Sisson said, “So in reality, the New Market Tax Credits are the only one signed up and ready to go?” Wardlaw responded, “You can’t look at this as one piece. There’s several funding sources that are contingent on others.”
It was also stated that $850,000 listed as ‘local land loan’ has been in place since last July. Wardlaw stated, “At this point in any housing finance package that we put together, we are on schedule.” She added, “It’s premature to have gotten this much funding together six months before you’re going to use it.”
Construction was required to start in February under the contract. Sisson said, “There’s a view point that when you’re providing public resources, that you want to know that the revenues are in place to make the project successful.”
Brooks interjected, “If the deal falls through, we get the land back. So what’s the issue here?”
Ruby Brabo praised Wardlaw and said, “I believe in what Froncé is doing here in the community and we’ve already seen everything she has been successful in providing to this community.”
Sisson said, “And I’ve supported those projects.” He added, “$8.4 million won’t appear just because we like somebody.”
He added to Wardlaw, “I know you are committed to the project, I don’t question that at all and I don’t question your vision. I know that you and Project FAITH have a great vision for what you’re doing. And I’m going to ask the tough questions to make sure that if you are going to use public land that it moves forward in a way that it will be successful.”
LoBuglio praised her track record and added, “If it falls through we will get the land back.”
Brooks next blamed racism for negativity coming from some in the county, saying, “A lot of negativity is coming from in the community and they have a lot of animosity because we gave this woman, an African-American woman, some land and they’ve got a problem with that. And I don’t care what nobody says – that’s what it’s all about.”
Others in the county have said they were against the public land being given away because of the vast amount of empty storefronts and office space adding up to a large amount of available square footage up for lease, sale or rent in the county due to the sluggish economy.
CLAUSE FOR REVERSION OF LAND
The performance agreement requires that construction be commenced with footings poured no later than Feb. 28, 2013 and construction to be completed no later than Aug. 1, 2014. The commencement of construction date is being requested to be pushed to Aug. 1, 2013.
The county “retains the right to reclaim the property through reversion of the property and all structures, appurtenances and improvements of any kind, in the event that Company does not meet all of its obligations under this Agreement and as set forth in the Deed.”
The documents also intend that Project FAITH must own and operate the facility in perpetuity or reversion would occur. It states, “Company is solely responsible for the continued maintenance and operation of the Facility solely for its stated and intended purposes.”
If the land were to revert to the county, it appears that the county would also get the liability on the property and any improvements. At the current time, the liability appears to be $850,000 from a land loan from an unspecified source.
If the project were to fail in the future, the liability could also be higher, depending on the point in the process.
PROJECT FAITH’S PROJECTS
Project FAITH is a charitable housing organization promoting safe, affordable and accessible housing for persons with disabilities and elder individuals of low-incomes. It has built and operates three phases of Angelwood, which includes 80 multi-family dwellings. Angelwood is located on the north side of Route 3 (Kings Highway) to the east of Union Bank.
The project is intended to be a multipurpose facility to provide community-based programs and services in the areas of health, education, learning, parenting assistance and other services to county residents of low-to-moderate incomes.
Wardlaw has said in the past that in addition to Project FAITH, potential partners to be housed in the center include the King George Department of Social Services, King George Free Clinic, Virginia Probation & Parole District 21 - Compliance and Prison Reentry Programs, Virginia Cares – Supportive Services/ Prison Reentry Programs, Rappahannock Community College, Rappahannock Goodwill Industries, New Horizons Café, Opening Doors Learning Center, Virginia Extension Office and King George Department of Health.
It was not publicly revealed which of the potential tenants are still included. The King George Health Department would not be an initial tenant. That’s because it has recently agreed to a 10-year lease to move into a building that is located in front of the Food Lion on Route 3 (Kings Hwy).