SVAE asks for 15-20 year payback

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Town would front cost of space for events group

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

Smithfield VA Events President Randy Pack, who is also a member of the Smithfield Town Council, said his corporation could pay back a loan of nearly half a million dollars taken out by the town in 15 to 20 years.

The requested loan of $450,000, submitted to the Town Council by Pack last week, would go toward construction of two new barns at Windsor Castle, as well as interior renovations to the former caretaker’s house on the historic 40-acre property, buildings SVAE has asked to then lease from the town as its headquarters, used as office and storage space.

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SVAE, which is run by several town and county officials along with Pack, would pay back the loan with rent for the facilities, according to Pack. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

In the ongoing rehabilitation of the historic Windsor Castle manor house and outbuildings, the new barns and interior caretaker’s house renovations are unfunded projects. The buildings are currently in phase three of the three phases of restoration and additional construction, but would be moved to phase one should the Council decide to provide the money and lease the property to SVAE. The lease would require a public hearing, though the town’s attorney said borrowing the money would not.

During a Town Council Public Buildings and Welfare committee meeting Tuesday, March 28, Pack and SVAE Director Gina Ippolito explained that their corporation, which applied for nonprofit status last fall, is currently spending $25,000-$30,000 annually on rental for an office and storage space, money it would rather give to the town.

“We’re into giving back,” Pack said to the Council, noting that none of the corporation’s directors get paid for their work.

SVAE hosts three alcohol and food-themed events a year at Windsor Castle, and already uses the 1750s Windsor Castle manor house as storage space, and as a “command center” during the festivals, according to Ippolito during the meeting.

Pack said there were two reasons for SVAE’s proposal regarding the construction, the first being “We don’t have the money to do it.”

Because SVAE does not own the property it hopes to have built and renovated (it would be owned by the town), it does not have the collateral necessary to take out a loan from a bank, according to Pack. The loan would thus need to be taken out by the town.

Public Buildings and Welfare committee chair Milton Cook said that the biggest “pro” to SVAE’s proposal is that the town would have new and renovated buildings that it is currently unable to otherwise fund.

The only con Cook said he saw in the proposal is if SVAE suddenly ceases to exist and becomes unable to pay off the debt.

“The town will be on the hook,” said Cook.

Pack said that anything can happen, but that the town would still be left with new buildings on the property, which other organizations could then lease or use.   

“The only thing we can assure you of is our intention of being around forever,” Pack said.

Cook spoke highly of SVAE, stating that it worked well with the town. He said the next step is to find out exactly how much the project would cost.

Pack said that SVAE hoped the project would cost less than the $450,000 in the proposal, but came to the figure by multiplying the square footage of the buildings by $125 per square foot.

Mayor Carter Williams said that Brian Camden of Alpha Corporation had offered to do a cost estimate with the town and SVAE for free.

Cook asked Council members Mike Smith and Denise Tynes, the only other Council members at the meeting, whether they had any comments.

Smith said he had no comment.

Tynes said she was not on the Public Buildings and Welfare committee.

SVAE has donated more than $500,000 to the town and local civic and nonprofit organizations since its formation.  {/mprestriction}