- Last Updated on Thursday, 20 June 2013 09:55
- Published on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 02:48
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It remains a mystery whether the HELP Center project proposed by Project FAITH on 5.3 acres of land given to it by the county will ever get off the ground.
If it doesn’t, or if the performance agreement and or terms of the deed of gift are deemed by the Board of Supervisors to be violated, a
reversion clause could take effect.
The reversion clause also provides that county taxpayers will be forced to pick up the costs of any liens, loans, unfulfilled grants and other liabilities that have been incurred by the project by that time.
The performance agreement prohibits “any and all for-profit and/or commercial uses.” There is no model for such a center being successfully accomplished anywhere in the state, with Project FAITH’s executive director Froncé Wardlaw often saying that it would be the first of its kind in Virginia. There may be financial reasons for that.
The cost of the building and subsequent mortgage loan paybacks could command a higher lease rate than non-profits can pay. And possibly more than state agencies would be able to likewise afford when following state rules for procuring space with price being an important factor.
Developing and long-term leasing of property is a risk-laden venture, successfully achieved by experienced businesses with the expertise and financial resources to weather the whims of the marketplace.
Project FAITH proposed the concept nearly four years ago and has been so far unable to provide firm details on funding the project. Wardlaw claimed a year ago at an April 17 meeting that half the funding had been identified, adding that once the land was deeded, it would enable, “All other funding sources to be realized in 2012.”
FINANCIAL DETAILS NEEDED
Saying where the money could come from and getting firm financial commitments are not the same. At this point, a solid financial plan to obtain financing to construct the building has not been revealed. A solid plan to continuously lease the proposed 30,500 square foot facility to keep it in the black has not been made public.
Perhaps such plans will be revealed at next week’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, when Project FAITH executive director Froncé Wardlaw is currently scheduled to provide a HELP Center report, at her previous request.
In the meantime, two most recent HELP Center documents that have distributed should be expected to provide the most reliable facts about the intended service providers.
But there are some facts that contradict the planning documents.
Both include Rappahannock Community College (RCC) as a major tenant. But President Elizabeth Crowther has sent mixed signals publicly on whether RCC will participate or not.
The Journal has obtained correspondence indicating that Crowther met with Wardlaw and King George Social Services Director David Coman on May 7 at RCC’s Glenns campus, with the email copied to Woody Van Valkenburgh who heads Rappahannock Goodwill and Nicole Thompson, who is the county’s director of economic development.
The email correspondence appears to indicate that the group is in the talking stage of forming a possible partnership between RCC and Rappahannock Goodwill to be housed in the proposed HELP Center. Whether that expansion for RCC goes forward or not remains to be seen.
There are nine service providers proposed and listed in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application, with letters of intent to lease received from five, including Project FAITH.
That application is currently under review with an announcement expected as early at the end of this month on whether the grant application is successfully funded for up to $700,000 to go toward construction costs for the free clinic in the $8.4 million proposed facility.
The application states the names of non-profits and state agencies, saying it has secured from them “commitments to lease.”
Those governmental and non-profit service providers are King George Free Clinic, King George Social Services, Rappahannock Community College, Rappahannock Goodwill Industries, New Horizons Café, State Probation and Parole, Empower House (formerly Rappahannock Domestic Violence Council), Fredericksburg Area HIV/AIDS Support Services, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.
The five letters indicating intent to lease come from King George Free Clinic (Dave Coman, Executive Director), King George Social Services (Dave Coman, Director), Project FAITH (Froncé Wardlaw, Executive Director), Department of Corrections (Marcus Hodges, Regional Administrator, & Ronald Cavanaugh, Chief Probation and Parole Officer), Virginia Cooperative Extension (La Wanda Wright, Extension Agent-Unit Coordinator).
HELP CENTER SITE PLAN
The site plan for the HELP Center project, approved by the Planning Commission last week on June 11, is dated May 28, 2013, and certified as current by the engineer. The site plan indicates the facility would total of 30,500 square feet.
The plan shows three separate buildings and a fourth ‘future’ building pad site for a multi-purpose room and commercial kitchen. Square footage is not provided for the future building.
One of the three buildings is a large “L” shaped building that is connected with an atrium area.
The site plan indicates proposed tenants on at least two pages.
The square footage summary box on the first page used to calculate the needed number of parking spaces according to their uses contains a listing of proposed tenants and square footage.
Another page gives shows the layout of the three separate buildings and fourth ‘future’ building and provides additional proposed tenants.
The proposed tenants closely dovetail with the CDBG application with some exceptions. Here’s the pertinent information gleaned from those sheets.
Project Faith Offices – 2,400 square feet. The layout plan also indicates that it would share that building’s space with Probation & Parole offices, those for the Cooperative Extension Service, and the Virginia Department of Health. But facts contradict housing of the Health Department for the next decade. That’s because the Health Department has recently signed a 10-year lease for space in the Food Lion Shopping center on Route 3.
Virginia Cooperative Extension – 3,500 square feet.
Rappahannock Community College – 15,000 square feet. RCC is additionally displayed on the building layout as sharing that space with a Rappahannock Goodwill Industries Self Help Center.
Department of Social Services – 7,100 square feet. The layout indicates DSS would occupy one of stand-alone buildings.
Entry Atrium – 1,000 square feet.
King George Free Clinic – 1,500 square feet. The layout indicates that the clinic would occupy a small separate building.