Events group given use of Windsor Castle facilities

Published 1:47 pm Wednesday, December 28, 2016

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

Plans for the renovation and alteration of the Windsor Castle manor house and grounds are beginning to publicly emerge — and include the construction of new storage buildings by Smithfield VA Events, a local private corporation run by town and county officials, elected or appointed.

Smithfield VA Events, the largest single user of Windsor Castle Park, also plans to renovate the interior of the caretaker house, while the exterior of the building will be renovated by the town of Smithfield, according to Mayor Carter Williams.

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In exchange, Smithfield VA Events will use the caretaker house, across the road from the manor house, as an office, and the newly constructed buildings, which are said to replicate two barns that once stood on the property, will be used for storage by the corporation. The barns are to be located near the existing barns, and those plans have already been approved by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which holds an historic easement on the property, according to Smithfield Town Council member Randy Pack, who is also president of Smithfield VA Events. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The Smithfield Times has asked several times over the past year to view and publish the overall plans for the manor house renovation as well as any master plans for the property, but was told no such plans existed. The request was repeated to Williams Monday, and he said the plans are held by Frazier and Associates of Staunton and Sue Ivy, who is president of Historic Windsor Castle Restoration LLC and the Windsor Castle Park Foundation.

The plans were paid for by Smithfield Foods, said Williams.

Use of the property by Smithfield VA Events plans does not require approval by the Smithfield Town Council because Historic Windsor Castle Restoration LLC, a private company, is overseeing the project, according to Pack.

Smithfield VA Events’ plans were announced publicly for the first time Dec. 20 as an “update” to the council by Public Buildings and Welfare Committee Chair Dr. Milton Cook, who notably sits on the committee for the Windsor Castle Park Foundation as well as the Historic Windsor Castle Restoration LLC. The public-private partnership between the town, foundation and Smithfield Foods was recently established to allow financial donor Smithfield Foods to be eligible for historic tax credits after the planned renovations of the Windsor Castle manor house and outbuildings are completed.

The LLC is considered a private company, however, most of the funds it handles are tax dollars. Smithfield, which owns the property, has committed $2 million for the restoration. Smithfield Foods donated $1 million for the project.  

The town council first publicly discussed the requirement of renovating the exterior of the caretaker’s house at a Dec. 6 committee meeting, as Cook noted that despite multiple efforts to persuade the Virginia Department of Historic Resources otherwise, the town was required by DHR to rehabilitate the exterior of the early 1900s structure as part of its overall renovations to the 1750s manor house and outbuildings, which were once owned by Smithfield founder Arthur Smith IV.

“It’s a losing battle,” said Cook, who had been an advocate of tearing the caretaker’s house down.  

Thus, the caretaker building and the two storage buildings had been pushed back to Phase III of the large restoration project because there was no money readily available for them, according to Cook.

Now, apparently, funding is readily available from Smithfield VA Events to construct the storage barns and create offices inside the caretaker’s house, but both Pack and Cook said they have no idea exactly how much yet. Regardless, the caretaker’s house and barns have been moved up to Phase I of the restoration project, according to Cook.  

“Smithfield VA Events was in need of space,” said Cook of his fellow council member’s corporation. “Office space and storage space, and this is a great example of a partnership waiting to happen.”

The Historic Windsor Castle Park Restoration will award Pack’s corporation space in the buildings without issuing an RFP or inviting other private entities than Smithfield VA Events the chance to bid on the opportunity to restore and then utilize the public property’s facilities. Because of the private nature of the LLC, none of that is required.

“So none of this is coming from the town,” said Cook of the agreement between Smithfield VA Events and the LLC. “Even though, yes, I’m on town council, and yes, [Pack]’s on town council, you’ve got to look at me as an LLC committee member, and he is Smithfield VA Events’ president.”

Smithfield VA Events approached the LLC about the arrangement, according to Pack. The corporation hosts three major events each year at Windsor Castle Park, including a Wine & Brew Fest, a Bacon, Bourbon & Beach Music Fest and the upcoming BOB Fest & 8K Chilly BOB Roadrace. Five dollars of every ticket sold for these events is donated to Windsor Castle Park Foundation, Cook noted.

“The funds that are raised by the three events that are held out there are a big driver for what keeps that property afloat, so it made a nice marriage,” said Pack of Smithfield VA Events’ agreement with the LLC.

Smithfield VA Events’ planned funds for the project are in no way a purchase of the buildings from Historic Windsor Castle Restoration, which is in a franchise agreement with the town for the property, according to Cook.

“Smithfield VA Events will donate to the LLC for the construction of the barns, and by doing so, are basically paying rent in advance,” Pack said.

Essentially, it will be a long-term sub-lease agreement, according to Cook.

So the town still owns, and will still own the buildings, but will not have total control over what happens with them.

“It’s not in the town’s hands anymore. It’s an LLC. It’s a private corporation,” Cook said. “The LLC is a public-private partnership. Smithfield Foods is just as much an owner as the town is.”

Cook said that giving Smithfield VA Events an office and storage space will make it more successful, which will in turn make the LLC more successful, due to the corporation’s frequent donations.   

“It gives us a home,” said Pack. “We are renting office space right now, we are renting storage space right now. So rather than turn around and give us this, we’re able to take the money that we’re using for rentals and invest them back into the town’s property to build nice facilities.”

The plans for the new barns and interior restoration of the caretaker house are currently about 35 percent complete, Pack said. While the total amount of money is as of yet unknown, it is sure to be a sizeable donation, according to Pack.   

Smithfield VA Events has become largely known for its charitable giving, contributing over $500,000 to local charities since it began hosting its hugely popular events five years ago, including donations of over $60,000 to the town itself.

Smithfield VA Events, which became a corporation in 2014, applied to become a nonprofit in late September of this year.

Cook’s business, Smithfield Family Dentistry, has been a prominent sponsor of Smithfield VA Events in the past, according to VA Events’ website, as has fellow council member Vice Mayor Andrew Gregory’s investment firm, Edward Jones.

Pack himself is co-owner of Smithfield Station, one of the largest hotels and restaurants in Smithfield, which is also heavily involved in sponsoring and advertising at events.

“It’s a great partnership, I think,” said Cook during Tuesday’s committee meeting. “It’s going to satisfy both. It’s a win-win.”

“The world headquarters of Smithfield VA Events,” mused Pack. “Where we are going to govern.”

Staff writer Diana McFarland contributed to this report.


The interconnections surrounding Windsor Castle Park

Smithfield VA Events Officers/Directors:

Randy Pack – President (Council Member)

Amy Musick – Secretary (Smithfield employee)

Jim Abicht – Director (Businessman)

Judy Winslow – Director (County Employee)

Terry Rhinier – Director (County Employee)


Historic Windsor Castle Restoration LLC Committee:

Sue Ivy

Milton Cook

Amy Musick

Martha Russ

Cynthia Edwards

Carter Williams


Smithfield Parks and Recreation:

Amy Musick – Director


Smithfield Town Council:

Randy Pack

Milton Cook

Connie Chapman

Andrew Gregory – Vice Mayor

Denise Tynes

Michael Smith

Carter Williams – Mayor


Isle of Wight County Tourism:

Judy Winslow – Director

Terry Rhinier – Event Coordinator 


Where are the plans?

Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams was asked Monday for Windsor Castle Park plans. He directed the Times to Windsor Castle Park Foundation President and President of the Historic Windsor Castle Restoration LLC Sue Ivy, who responded with the following email:

“When you say plans, do you mean the construction plans?  There are copies of those but I don’t have them.  (Windsor Castle Park Foundation Board member and Director of Parks and Recreation) Amy Musick might have them and I know that (Smithfield 2020 Project Manager) Rick Bodson has them.  He is on a cruise but should be back in a couple of days.  If you are looking for a conceptual drawing, I know Amy/Rick has something you can use.  The actual drawings right now are enough to fill a book so nothing we can send electronically.  We also have a poster with a rendering of what the manor house should look like upon completion.

 The architectural construction plans on the house are 35 percent complete.  Frasier and Associates is working on getting the other 65 percent done within the next couple of months.  They are doing that while we do the asbestos abatement, drying out the manor house and doing the utilities work.  We anticipate the 1st phase to take up to a year.

 Keep in mind that not everything in the drawings may be built/put in exactly as in the drawings.  It all depends on funding. The committee has approved phase one which includes the things listed above and the stabilization of the outbuildings.

 Hope that helps! Please let me know if you have more questions.”

The newspaper will continue trying to obtain a copy of the plans of the park.  {/mprestriction}