EDA projects show progress

FRONT ROYAL – The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority continues to move forward with major projects.

EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald provided an update to the authority’s Board of Directors at its meeting Friday. Chairman  Greg Drescher indicated that McDonald intends to present an updated report each month. While included in the report, McDonald did not mention the EDA’s efforts to market the former Afton Inn property on Main Street or the current proposal to demolish the structure under consideration by the Board of Architectural Review. County Administrator Doug Stanley briefly mentioned the Afton Inn in his report to the EDA board.

Government funds make up 25 percent of the EDA’s $438,669 operational budget, including $108,117 from the Warren County.  Front Royal leaders decided several years ago to stop funding the EDA even though the authority continues to work on economic development in the town.

The EDA funds the remaining non-governmental portion of its budget with income from rentals and interest as well as profits from land sales. The town and county share a portion of the costs for projects in the EDA’s capital budget with the amounts dependent on the property’s location.

McDonald’s report also included the following updates:

• The EDA went to closing in June on the Royal Lane property slated for the workforce housing project. The EDA made a down payment of $15,000 to Walter and Jeanette Campbell for a study period on the property. No town or county funds will be spent on the EDA-funded project. The EDA has spent $586,009 on the project.

• The EDA continues to work with ITFederal on a “scaled down version” of that  project. ITFederal has pulled $625,562 from the $10 million loan to cover costs associated with obtaining DEQ permits as well as design and engineering services and to haul dirt to fill a 10-foot gap across the 20-acre site. The EDA anticipates ITFederal will break ground on the project this fall once dirt has compacted, the town approves plans for the West Main Street extension and construction can begin. McDonald notes in her report that neither the town nor the county has been asked to fund any part of the project or to provide incentives to the company.

• Town officials hope to break ground on the West Main Street extension this fall. The EDA continues to work with the town and Pennoni engineers on design plans for the project. The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to allocate up to $650,000 for the project with ITFederal contributing $150,000. The town increased the real estate tax rate to help offset some of the project cost.