IT firm to bring 600 jobs to Avtex site

Front Royal can expect a company to add hundreds of jobs over several years when it builds in the former Avtex Fibers site.

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., announced Friday that a $40 million economic development deal calls for ITFederal LLC to build an office complex on approximately 30 acres of the former Superfund site. The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority owns the Avtex site. The EDA and ITFederal are working out the final details of the contract, which should be complete within the next week, according to information from Goodlatte’s office.

The project is expected to create more than 600 high-paying jobs. ITFederal will build a 67,000-square-foot mixed-use office complex. The complex will include 37,000 square feet of office space, 20,000 square feet of retail space and a 10,000-square-foot cloud data center to support ITFederal.

Construction is expected to last an estimated 36 months with the construction of the first phase to begin in the third quarter of this year and completed by November 2016. The second building is expected to be fully operational in October 2017 and the third building in September 2018.

The 30-acre site lies near the EDA building off Kendrick Lane. Town Council rezoned the entire Avtex site in anticipation of its redevelopment.

EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald said Friday the job numbers and investment figures stand as estimates.

“All of the numbers – the 600 jobs and the $40 million – they’re all projections over the life of the project, so it’s not day one they open they’re going to have 600 jobs,” McDonald said.

How much of the entire office complex ITFederal would use remains uncertain.

“Those are still details that we’re trying to finalize,” McDonald said.

In some instances of economic development, the state or the locality offers incentives – tax breaks, cash – to a company to locate in a certain site. The ITFederal project could involve a similar arrangement, McDonald said.

“We have nothing finalized yet so as far as incentives or land price or anything like that, so nothing has been finalized through the EDA, town or county,” McDonald said.

With the property rezoned, ITFederal would need to obtain the necessary building permits to move forward. The rezoning requested by the EDA included a required site plan for how a developer could build out the property. ITFederal would need to obtain permission to deviate much from the plan as approved with the rezoning.

The EDA sought the rezoning before the agency learned of ITFederal’s interest, McDonald said.

“We were doing that just anticipating that we may have a prospect that would be looking at the site,” McDonald said. “We were hoping that ITFederal would stick to that concept or make it better.

“I’m sure what we had envisioned is not what they envisioned, so I’m sure something will change with that but at least we got it to the point where we got it rezoned,” McDonald added.

Little information about ITFederal – what the company does, where it’s headquartered – was made available through the congressman’s office or the EDA. A website for an ITFederal identified the company as a division of VDN Systems that provides information technology services to the U.S. government. McDonald said that site did not correspond to the company identified as the one intending to build on the Avtex site.

“They have asked for us not to give out their contact information … just because we have not finalized all the details,” McDonald said.

The Environmental Protection Agency declared the former Avtex Fibers property a Superfund site years ago that spurred an extensive clean-up operation. Last year, the EPA finally released the property to the EDA for development. Goodlatte worked on behalf of the EDA to make sure the EPA would give the site to the authority.

Goodlatte brought the ITFederal project to the EDA, McDonald said. The EDA also has had discussions with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership about the project, McDonald added.

As for the timing of the announcement, McDonald said it appeared that the congressman wanted to make the project known. McDonald said she and the EDA cannot comment on the details of the project until all parties have signed the agreement. That likely will happen within the week.

“We are extremely happy to be able to work with someone that’s gonna offer good jobs at this Avtex site because this community has waited a long time to see something happen and this is a good opportunity for our community,” McDonald said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com