Details on county office plan released

Posted: July 13, 2013

The Winchester Star

Frederick County officials are considering an offer to leave their office building at 107 N. Kent St. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Frederick County officials this week released part of a proposal from a company offering to construct a government office building outside the city.

The county government received an unsolicited proposal in March from Frederick County Center LLC to provide financing for the design and construction of a building.

The county’s current facility — at 107 N. Kent St. — contains 100,000 square feet of space, while the company is proposing a 150,000-square-foot building.

According to the proposal, Frederick County Center LLC would also provide land in the county for the project, and would purchase the existing building in the city.

The proposal was dated March 22 — the firm was registered with Virginia’s State Corporation Commission on March 20 — and was delivered to county officials on that day or shortly afterward, according to County Administrator John R. Riley Jr.

The deadline for private entities to submit competing proposals was 2 p.m. on June 25 — but no others were received.

The company’s proposal came in two volumes, with Volume I containing information not classified as proprietary and Volume II containing the proprietary information.

According to Volume I, the firm “assembled a team of industry and professional leaders” that “constitutes the proposed structure of our team.”

The four companies listed under the Frederick County Center LLC in Volume I are Winchester-based Howard Shockey & Sons Inc., cited as the project’s design-build firm; Reston-based architecture firm the Polleo Group; Winchester-based legal consultants Lawson & Silek PLLC; and the Richmond office of international financial company Raymond James & Associates.

Volume I states that: “Through the comprehensive agreement, Frederick County Center LLC is prepared to assume all performance risks for property acquisition, building design and construction, site design and site development, and is willing to provide guarantees for this risk, as noted in the proposal. Contractually, Frederick County Center LLC will enter into a design[-]build contract with Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc., through which Shockey will assume responsibility for the design and construction of the project. At the detailed phase of this proposal, we will discuss the specific extent of the shift of risk from public to private sector and our team’s willingness to negotiate the allocation of such risk.”

Local attorney Thomas Moore “Ty” Lawson, of Lawson & Silek, is the registered agent for the LLC.

“The LLC is and was created to make this proposal,” he said in a phone interview on Friday. “At this stage, I don’t think it’s appropriate to disclose the [LLC’s] ownership structure.”

Specific details of the proposal — including the site of the land being offered, the purchase price for the existing building and any plans for the existing building — were considered proprietary while the county government accepted competing proposals.

The company can choose to keep details in Volume II proprietary until county officials reach the point when a public hearing is required to solicit opinions about any potential move and any agreement between the county government and the company, according to Riley and County Attorney Roderick B. Williams.

Lawson said he does not believe the company will reveal any proprietary information public while negotiations are underway.

The proposal was made under the state’s Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 (PPEA), which “was designed to bring private sector expertise to bear on public projects — saving time and money,” according to the Virginia Department of General Services.

Several local projects — including the county Public Safety Building, Pod 3 and the Community Corrections Center at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center, and Greenwood Mill Elementary School — have been constructed under the PPEA process, and Shockey was involved in the construction of each of those buildings, according to the proposal.

Shockey Vice President Jeff Boehm is an appointed member of the state Legislature’s PPEA Model Guidelines Task Force, according to the proposal.

Shockey can undertake a single project totaling $80 million and has a bonding capacity of $400 million, according to the proposal.

Neither Boehm nor Thomas Dinneny, principal of the Polleo Group, could be reached through their offices for comment about their companies’ interest and involvement in the proposal.

James R. Johnson, a managing director with Raymond James & Associates in Richmond, deferred questions to county officials.

The county government came close to moving its offices out of Winchester in the mid-1990s before an agreement with city leaders kept them downtown and allowed for the expanded 100,000-square-foot facility.

The county government still owes $1.3 million on its current administration building. It is scheduled to make a $705,000 payment in December and pay the remaining balance in December 2014, according to information previously provided by county Finance Director Cheryl Shiffler.

More than 200 county employees work in the current office.

The county Board of Supervisors on Wednesday voted to send the proposal to the county’s Public Works Committee for evaluation.

— Contact Matt Armstrong