Town asked to front work

Published 12:49 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2017

$450,000 loan would provide Smithfield VA Events with offices and storage

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

Smithfield VA Events is proposing the town of Smithfield take out a $450,000 loan to renovate the interior of the caretaker’s house and construct two new barns at Windsor Castle, buildings the organization then plans to lease from the town as office and storage space.

After leasing the buildings, SVAE would use its lease payments to pay back the debt service on the loan, according to a proposal letter signed by Smithfield VA Events President Randy Pack, who is also on the Town Council.  

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A sublease agreement with SVAE to lease the property from the town would require a public hearing by the Town Council, according to Town Attorney Bill Riddick. However, should that lease be approved, a loan from the town would not necessarily require an additional hearing, Riddick said, noting that nothing had yet been discussed. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

SVAE, currently a private corporation with a pending application to become a nonprofit run by Pack and several town and county employees, announced in December its intention to fund construction of the two new barns and caretaker renovations on the town property, in exchange for use of the buildings. The interior renovations of the caretaker house are otherwise as of yet unfunded in the overall rehabilitation project for the historic buildings. Renovating the exterior of the building is included in work now being undertaken.

In a letter to the town and Historic Windsor Castle Restoration, an LLC formed to manage the rehabilitation at Windsor Castle in order to receive historic tax credits from the state, Pack stated that once the loan is taken out by the town, SVAE will enter into a lease to use the buildings “at a rate and length of term necessary to cover the debt service so there is no cost to the town of Smithfield or its taxpayers.”

The letter goes on to state that the debt service payments will come out of SVAE’s operating budget, so that the organization will still be able to make charitable contributions to the community.

SVAE hosts three major alcohol-centered festivals at Windsor Castle Park annually, and has donated more than $500,000 to the town and other civic groups and nonprofit organizations since its formation.

“We welcome open communication and are willing to be flexible to see this project through,” Pack said in the proposal, adding that the project would be a “win-win” for all involved.

Pack is also co-owner of the Smithfield Station, a hotel and restaurant located across the street from the park.

The letter also states that by having a full-time office in the early 20th century caretaker’s house, SVAE would provide “an additional layer of security” to the park.

Smithfield Parks and Recreation Director Amy Musick is also a director for SVAE, as is Isle of Wight County Tourism Director Judy Winslow and Events Coordinator Terry Rhinier, as well as Smithfield Christmas Store owner Jim Abicht.

The Smithfield Town Council public buildings and welfare committee was slated to discuss the proposal during its Tuesday afternoon meeting.

The estimated cost of the rehabilitation slated for Windsor Castle manor house and its outbuildings, including construction of a proposed new building included in the long-range plans, is listed at $8 million, according to an application sent by the town to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

Smithfield Foods donated $1 million to the project, along with $300,000 in architectural fees, while the town has put up $2 million. Windsor Castle Park Foundation recently announced a $5 million capital campaign aimed at completing restoration of the manor house, including modern additions to facilitate its use as a small events center.  {/mprestriction}