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Silver official makes pitch to Spotsylvania EDA
UPDATE: Bill Freehling reports on his blog that Kalahari’s attorney said the city EDA’s decision today was acceptable to Kalahari, and he sees no reason the company’s bonds would go outside of the city at this point.
This all may be moot now, based on the report I’ve gotten from Bill Freehling about the city EDA’s vote today to accept the city manager’s proposal on the taxable bond fees (and to charge the full fee for the full term of the tax-exempt bonds), but here’s what happened in Spotsylvania this afternoon:
Spotsylvania County’s EDA heard a presentation from Silver Director of Development Scott Little today on the Kalahari taxable bond fees that have been the subject of much debate around here lately.
- Little said Kalahari would be willing to pay the same fee it had agreed to pay to Fredericksburg on the roughly $240 million taxable bond issue. That is $59,375 a year for 10 years.
- Little told the county EDA that Spotsylvania could have a “marketing presence” within the Kalahari resort if they issued the bonds, although he did not get into specifics about what that would entail.
- Little also said that Silver would “be happy to pledge one of our projects in Spotsylvania County to Class A office space,” since he’d heard the county wants to attract more office tenants. He did not specify which project, and he noted that the pledge would be dependent on finding tenants for such a project.
- As an added sweetener, Little also said Silver would assist the county in trying to get another entrance to the Spotsylvania Towne Centre at Carl D. Silver Parkway and State Route 3. That is something mall developer Cafaro has wanted for a while. Cafaro has approached the city about condemning a piece of property that would be necessary to make this entrance happen, but several city officials have pointed out that there’s not much incentive for Fredericksburg to do that, since it would put a tax-paying city merchant out of business while making it easier for shoppers to take their tax dollars out of Fredericksburg. Little acknowledged that “We don’t have the say-so, we don’t own the land, but we’d be happy to help.”
- EDA members wanted to know whether the City Council was likely to vote to allow the bonds to be issued by an EDA outside of Fredericksburg. There are varying opinions on that, and after the city EDA’s actions today, it’s likely that council opinions are changing, but Little said at the county meeting today, “We believe we have the support of the City Council.”
- Both Little and Spotsylvania EDA members responded to city Vice Mayor Kerry Devine’s criticism in a letter yesterday that the county was “poaching” by agreeing to take these bond fees away from Fredericksburg. “To be very clear, nobody came knocking from Spotsylvania on our door,” Little said. “It was our company who came knocking to Spotsyvlania.” EDA members said they would see themselves as helping the city if they took the bonds, since they’d be helping the project–which will benefit Fredericksburg more than any other locality from a tax standpoint–to happen. “I think this would be a good start in regional cooperation for tourism,” EDA member Robert Stuber said. “If the city’s EDA were to help finance a large company that was to come to Spotsylvania, my response would be, ‘Thank you, we’ll send you a dozen roses next week,’” EDA chairman Steven Thomas said.
- Also addressing Devine’s letter, Little said the extension of the deadline on Kalahari’s tax-exempt bond issue is in no way an excuse to delay governmental actions. The sooner the bond fee issue is settled, and the sooner the city acts on a number of planning items that are currently contingencies for the project to move forward, the sooner Kalahari can move forward. “The cost of delay in all of these matters is astronomical,” Little said. “The extension was not something to let us sit back and breathe. There is no time to delay. … I’m actually not sure what drove Kerry to write all of that. The city has everything to gain by us advancing this bond sale in any way we can.”
- Little said Silver and Kalahari would know “by the crack of dawn tomorrow” which locality they planned to send an application for the taxable bonds to. That application will likely be in the hands of that jurisdiction by the end of this week.