- Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 00:00
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The King George Board of Supervisors heard from 10 people at last week’s meeting on Dec. 21 during public comment time. All ten came out four days before Christmas to urge support for a proposed project by Project FAITH to construct a HELP Center.
The topic was not on the meeting agenda.
Froncé Wardlaw, who works for Project FAITH, Inc., as its executive director, kicked off the list of those asking for county support for the proposed HELP Center project.
It’s not clear why Wardlaw would recruit so many to come and comment on a planned project, unless it has hit a potential snag.
Nearly three months ago, on Oct. 5, the Board of Supervisors authorized execution of a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the county and Project FAITH to serve as the basis for further discussion about developing a final performance agreement and deed that would convey 5.5 acres of land on which to construct the proposed HELP Center.
The property is located in the in the County’s new King George Government Center on Route 3 (Kings Hwy) at Purkins Corner, east of Route 205 (Ridge Road), across from the Sheriff’s office building under construction.
County Administrator Travis Quesenberry said this week he could not comment on issues regarding the proposed HELP Center because they deal with development of a proposed deed and proposed performance agreement, exempt from public disclosure at this time.
SPEAKERS FOR HELP CENTER
In addition to Wardlaw, those speaking on behalf of the HELP Center were David Clare - Senior Vice President of Union First Market Bank in King George, Marcus Hodges - chief probation & parole officer in Fredericksburg for District 21, LaWanda Wright - King George Virginia Cooperative extension agent, Ramonda Pollard - social worker with King George Department of Social Services, Helene Kelly - registered nurse volunteer at King George Free Clinic, Rev. Dr. Earlene Cumberlander – resident of Angelwood, Catherine Thomas – resident of Angelwood, Rev. Elfie Finn-McKenzie – pastor, Fletcher’s Chapel and member of Project FAITH Board of Directors, and Graham Driver, director of New Market Tax Credits and Equity Funds for the Virginia Community Development Corporation.
Driver spoke at length, saying, “I would encourage the Board of Supervisors to be as flexible as possible in terms as to how you structure the land ownership for the HELP Center.”
He noted that the proposed center’s mission is to co-locate service providers to offer comprehensive, wrap-around services to low-to-moderate income families, persons with disabilities, and disenfranchised and at-risk individuals.
But unlike the on-going projects developed and operated by Project FAITH, this proposal is not residential. Nor is it being described as not-for-profit.
Driver noted the HELP Center would be focused on commercial space, with leases for the partners or tenants being commercial in nature.
Driver also explained that VCDC would invest funds as a limited partner or equity investment partner. He said Project FAITH would “stay in the project as a managing partner or general partner.”
The commercial nature of the project could be a potential snag for Supervisors, with the County being asked to give county-owned land to an entity for commercial development.
It’s not publicly-known what that entity would be or how it would be categorized or taxed.
In her remarks, Finn-McKenzie, a member of the board of directors for Project Faith, also spoke about the need to create another entity to run the project, saying, “I think what the bottom line in this whole thing is, is that we need to be able to create an entity so that we can receive the money that our grants and our loans are going to allow us to receive. And I think that’s kind of the bottom line in this whole issue, is the ability to be able to create an entity other than simply the board of directors running this project. In order for us to be able to do this and to do it right, we need to create that entity to do so.”
OWNERSHIP & OPERATION
Under the MOU, the land is to be given and conveyed to Project FAITH or its permitted assignee, free and clear of all monetary liens and deeds of trust, but subject to all easements, covenants and restrictions of record and as set forth in the final Performance Agreement.
That means the property would come with strings attached.
The land would only be turned over as a site for the construction and operation of 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 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 serving medically uninsured county residents, 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, King George Department of Health and Virginia Extension Office.
There are numerous additional terms and conditions that are to serve as the basis for further discussion for providing the property to Project FAITH are outlined in the MOU as follows.
~ Project FAITH is responsible for the overall operation and administration of its organization and the creation, design, construction, maintenance and operation of the facility including the entire cost.
~ The County and Project FAITH will work together to determine the facility’s size, structure, layout, exterior appearance, ingress/egress, landscaping, buffering and the like.
~ The County will retain the right to retain the property through a reversionary clause in the deed in the event that Project FAITH does not meet its obligations under the final Performance Agreement, including completing construction of the facility on the property by the end of calendar year 2013.
~ Likewise the property would revert to the County in the event that Project FAITH does not meet its obligations for continued maintenance and operation of the facility solely for its stated and intended purposes, including providing suitable space for state and local offices.
~ Under the terms of the MOU, Project FAITH is also to complete construction of the facility on the property by the end of calendar year 2013.
~ The County has provided Project FAITH with copies of all engineering data, environmental reports, soils studies, appraisals, inspection reports, title policies and title reports relating to the property to the extent the County has possession of such reports or other items.
~ The County agrees to cooperate with Project FAITH to provide support and information necessary to obtain the required permits and permissions; and to apply for certain financial support, including the Community Development Block Grant.
~ Project FAITH understands and agrees that this is not a commitment to give, loan and/or secure financial support to or on behalf of Project FAITH.
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.
Angel Court is being constructed to offer 24 two- and three-bedroom multi-family rental units to income-eligible families. It is the third phase of Angelwood, which will have 80 multi-family dwellings when Angel Court is completed. Angelwood is located on the north side of Route 3 (Kings Highway) to the east of Union Bank.
The HELP Center had been on hold since earlier this summer.
In March, Supervisors had submitted an application for federal funding through the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) to assist Project FAITH in getting funding of $690,000 to go toward infrastructure costs for the HELP Center project.
CDBG funding must be sought through the locality in which the planned project will be sited.
It is expected that the application will be resubmitted for the next round of CDBG funding.
But in early July, notification was received that Project FAITH’s proposed HELP Center project didn’t make the cut for the most recent round of competitive grant applications funded by the Department of Housing & Community Development.
Wardlaw had appeared before the Board at a meeting on June 8 with a request for $1.5 million donation by for its proposed HELP Center. Supervisors had expressed support for the project but did not take action to provide a cash donation.