Restoration comes in $2 million under budget

Published 7:53 pm Tuesday, February 18, 2020

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer

The Windsor Castle Park restoration project wrapped up last month at a savings of $2.1 million under original cost projections, according to Smithfield Parks and Recreation Director Amy Novak.

At its onset, the project’s estimated cost was $5 million for restoration of the historic structures at the park, with final costs coming in at $2.9 million, according to Novak. 

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The manor house is now currently being marketed as an event space — particularly, a wedding venue — with three levels that include a bridal dressing room and lounge, a commercial-grade catering kitchen, a board room, living room, music room, a groomsmen lounge, a “pub”-style space and a game room in the basement, plus other rooms for storage. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

 “With the park property came the historic easement, which included two houses and 10 outbuildings, all in need of immediate attention,” said Novak. 

Windsor Castle Park, which was donated to the town by Joseph Luter III in 2010, came with a mandate from the Department of Historic Resources requiring town officials to rehabilitate the existing buildings, according to Novak. 

Initial funding for the project came from a $1 million donation from Smithfield Foods, and a $2 million contribution from the town. 

“We had enough money to begin, no idea how far the $3 million would get us,” said Novak. 

Additional donations from the Luter Family Foundation covered the cost to completely furnish the manor house, and another donation from William Darden covered the cost of landscaping and hardscaping, according to Novak. 

The project estimate of $5 million is sourced from a feasibility study provided by Smithfield Foods at the onset of the project, said Novak, adding that the rehab project engaged 80 contractors, mostly from Hampton Roads. 

Of the town’s $2 million contribution, the actual investment came to $1.3 million by the end of the project, according to Novak.

Smithfield VA Events, which hosts festivals at the park three times a year, now currently leases the restored caretaker’s house and two reconstructed barns at the park for office space and storage.   

The reconstruction of the caretaker’s house and two barns was accelerated by a $350,000 pledge from Smithfield VA Events, being paid through a 15-year lease that repays both the town’s $350,000 plus two-percent debt service, according to Windsor Castle Park Restoration Project Manager Rick Bodson. 

The town also received $416,000 in tax credits realized from the rehabilitation project, according to Novak. 

“The Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) extends its tax credit incentives for the rehab of historic structures to tax-exempt organizations – community organizations, municipalities – through the structure of a limited liability company,” said Bodson in an email. 

That limited liability company was Historic Windsor Castle, LLC, formed by the Windsor Castle Foundation, according to Bodson. 

“We had to do it, but unlike most government-mandated projects, we have something for our money spent,” said Novak, adding that in addition to a beautiful venue, those who lease the property will also be spending money at local shops and restaurants. 

Novak thanked Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams — who acted as the project’s general manager — and Bodson for thousands of hours of donated time over the course of the three-year construction project. Previously, she commended the manor house interior design committee members Martha Russ, Trey Gwaltney and JoAnn Hall and others. 

Roger Ealy was the project’s site superintendent, and David Boyd was the lead contractor, according to Bodson. {/mprestriction}