FRONT ROYAL – After exiting a closed session, the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority announced that it will market its property at 506 E. Main St. for $299,000 and its property at 514 E. Main St. for $159,000.
The EDA bought both of those buildings for $398,000 in 2014 from the trust of former Warren County Supervisor Bernard Stokes.
The two buildings have been plagued by issues as 506 E. Main St. formerly housed the B&G Goods Store, which is one focal point in a variety embezzlement accusations levied against former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald.
The building now houses Main Street Market and owner Ginny Leser has noted a variety of problems there, including a leaking roof and a broken HVAC system. While Leser said John Anzivino, former interim EDA director, told her the authority would pay to fix the issues, she has been told more recently that there will be no repairs.
Leser's lease states that she has the option to purchase the building and Dan Whitten, county and EDA attorney, said he is working to figure out what kind of notice the authority needs to give her regarding her right to first refusal of purchase. Whitten also said he needs to call Anzivino to discuss the nature of any conversations with Leser.
In June, one of the three tenants who live at 514 E. Main St. crashed into the building after experiencing brake failure, which resulted in the building be declared unsafe for living. The tenants were relocated to a hotel.
Douglas Parsons, EDA executive director, explained the insurance company Progressive has said it will pay for four weeks - at $1,129 per week - of hotel lodging for those tenants.
He explained that an initial repairs estimate was about $20,850, with which Progressive insurance agreed. He said a new insurance agent eventually took over the case and wanted another estimate, so repairs – which are expected to take 20 days – have been delayed.
"We're doing everything we can to get this through the insurance," Parsons said.
EDA Chairman Gray Blanton said the authority should not have to cover any lodging costs due to the delay. Parsons responded that begs the question of whether the EDA is going to spend money on litigation to solve the issue.
EDA board member Greg Harold said "it seems like this has been going on for too long" and he would like to get the issue solved as soon as possible.
EDA board member Ed Daley said the authority needs to get an assessment on the building to figure out if any other improvements should be made beyond the repairs to make the building livable. Blanton said the tenants like living there and want to get back in, therefore the EDA should get the most basic repairs done so they can return home.
Also, after exiting the closed session, the EDA approved the solicitation of proposals for a maximum of $40,000 in engineering services in the Happy Creek Technology Park. When asked, EDA board member Greg Harold said he could not disclose the nature of those engineering services as that was part of a closed session discussion.
The EDA owns approximately 147 acres near the Happy Creek Technology Park, according to Warren County's G.I.S. website.
Meanwhile, the EDA remains in wait of its annual audit, which is nine months overdue and has prevented the county from turning in its audit.