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Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or pgould@freelancestar.com. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or rsidersky@freelancestar.com.

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Pre-Turkey Day tidbits

I stopped by the Economic Development Authority’s meeting today, and picked up a few quick updates on stories we’re covering:

Expo money. City Manager Phillip Rodenberg has said before that the EDA might be asked to help the city pay for the three-year subsidy/partnership/investment/bailout (the name varies based on who you’re talking to) that the City Council is considering establishing with the Fredericksburg Expo and Convention Center.

Today, Economic Development Director Kevin Gullette told EDA members that the Silver Cos. have agreed to help with the $300,000 a year the city is considering giving the Expo Center by contributing $100,000 the first year and $50,000 the next two years. The city’s trying to figure out where the rest of the money will come from (Matt Kelly has proposed hiking the lodging tax rate by one percent); however, Gullette said the EDA’s share will be small, and maybe nonexistant.

Incidentally, EDA member Rick Pullen pointed out one thing that I haven’t managed to wedge into a story on this issue: The Expo Center, as part of the now-dissolved Celebrate Virginia Special Service District, is one of the property owners that repaid the $1 million (plus interest) that the city gave to the United States National Slavery Museum back in 2002.

Hope for old warehouse? City officials are still trying to find a way to keep what they consider a historic warehouse at 310 Frederick St. from being torn down. As we reported here, a deal that had been in the works to save the building fell through, and since that story, the owner has received all the permits needed to demolish the building. In the meantime, the city is taking one last shot at trying to find a private buyer to save the building and redevelop the property. Today, the EDA agreed to a request from City Attorney Kathleen Dooley that it set aside $1 million of the tax-exempt bonds it is authorized to issue for 2008 to help provide low-interest financing for a private buyer to acquire the property. No word on who Dooley and Gullette are talking to or how realistic a deal on this property is. In the meantime, Janney-Marshall, the company that owns the building, has the authority it needs to tear it down.

Keep courts downtown. The EDA adopted a resolution urging the city not to put the new courthouse out on Lafayette Boulevard. The city’s JumpStart plan, which the EDA commissioned, envisions the courthouse as part of a mixed-use redevelopment of the block that the Post Office occupies on Princess Anne Street. The Post Office and the Lafayette Boulevard site are the only two sites in contention for the court complex, and City Council members have said they’d like to pick one by the end of the year. EDA Member Tom Crimmins said that putting the courthouse on Lafayatte Boulevard, outside of the core downtown area, is, “moving in the exact opposite direction than what JumpStart was suggesting. From an economic development point of view, I think it’s a step way backward.”

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