Taylor Hotel site work to start soon after council OK

Posted: October 10, 2012

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a contract for the first phase of the project to redevelop the former Taylor Hotel building.

But because a federal agency has not released money for the project, it probably will be two weeks or more before any work can begin at the site.

By a 7-0 vote with one abstention, the councilors authorized the execution of a contract with Broadway’s Lantz Construction to demolish part of the structure and stabilize the rest. Lantz was the low bidder on the project at $1.18 million.

Council Vice President John Willingham abstained from voting because he has professional ties to the private developer who plans to partner with the Winchester Economic Development Authority for the project’s second phase.

Funding for the estimated $3.6 million project includes a $1 million advance on the city’s Community Development Block Grant allocations from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Before the vote, however, City Attorney Tony Williams told councilors that a HUD official informed a city official Tuesday that the city won’t be authorized to use any of that money until Oct. 22.

The resolution the councilors approved indicates that the contract won’t be executed until HUD authorizes the use of its funds.

“The HUD [advance] has been approved,” Williams said. “We just have to wait until they authorize us to use the grant funds.”

Downtown business owners and merchants for years have been calling for something to be done about the blighted building at 119-129 N. Loudoun St. The start date for the project has been pushed back several times as issues have arisen with approvals related to the work on the historic structure.

The councilors also unanimously approved a contract with USA Sports and Marketing Services to plan, promote and coordinate special events to be held throughout the city.

The three-year pact calls for the city company to receive a starting monthly retainer of $5,800. The city will receive a portion of the proceeds from each event, with USA Sports and Marketing earning 75 percent of any positive net revenue generated in a year.

The city’s net expense for the first year is projected to be $52,800.

Dario Savarese, president of USA Sports and Marketing, said after the meeting that he’ll be doing preparatory work and establishing events calendars as defined by the contract for about nine months. The first activities likely to be held are a series of three monthly music-oriented events to be held at different venues downtown beginning in June.

“We want to create a fun, downtown-live atmosphere to build off some things that are going on down there now,” Savarese said.

The councilors also voted 8-0 to suspend Charles Sweeney’s taxicab driver’s permit pending final disposition of his case for sexual battery in Frederick County. The motion included a provision for automatic revocation upon conviction on the charge or reinstatement if he is acquitted.

The councilors also:

Voted 8-0 to adopt the Downtown Strategic Plan.

Voted 8-0 to approve an application to the Virginia Department of Transportation for $8.65 million in revenue-sharing funds.

Voted 8-0 to approve an ordinance to rezone 1.48 acres of land at 302-304, 320 and 326-330 N. Cameron St. and 110 E. Fairfax Lane to Central Business District from Commercial Industrial District.

Voted 8-0 to approve a conditional-use permit for a multifamily dwelling at 443 Millwood Ave.

Voted 8-0 to approve a resolution to execute a new water supply agreement with Middletown.

Voted 8-0 to accept $25,000 in grant money from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for selective traffic enforcement.

Voted 8-0 to approve changes to the city’s fund balance policies to establish minimum balances for the capital reserve fund.

Voted 8-0 to appoint William Pifer to the Board of Equalization of Real Estate Assessments for a one-year term ending Dec. 31, 2013.

Voted 8-0 to reappoint J.P. Carr and Suzanne Conrad as members of the Winchester Economic Development Authority for four-year terms ending Aug. 31, 2016.

Voted 8-0 to appoint Judy Lloyd, Lisa McCoig and Eugene Schultz as members of the Handley Library Board for four-year terms ending Nov. 30, 2016.

Voted 8-0 to reappoint Larry Omps as a member of the Juvenile Detention Commission for a four-year term ending Dec. 31, 2016.

Voted 8-0 to appoint Richard Ridgell as a member of the Lord Fairfax Emergency Medical Services Council for a three-year term ending June 30, 2015.

Announced the term expiration of Dave Shore as a member of the Planning Commission effective Dec. 31.

Announced the term expirations of Patrick Farris and Kate Christen as members of the Tree Commission effective Dec. 31.

Announced the term expiration of Ronald Mislowsky, Cheryl Connolly and Tim Machado as members of the Community Development Commission effective Dec. 31.

Held a first reading on an ordinance to amend City Code pertaining to the Old Town Development Board.

Held a first reading on an ordinance to vacate an approximately 10-foot portion of Battaile Drive approximately 678 feet in length and convey it to the owners of the adjacent property.

Held a first reading on an ordinance to amend City Code pertaining to real estate exemption by classification and designation.

Held a first reading on an ordinance to amend City Code pertaining to utility billing terms and deposits.

Attending the meeting at Rouss City Hall were President Jeffrey Buettner, Mayor Elizabeth Minor, Vice President John Willingham, Vice-Mayor Milt McInturff and councilors Evan Clark, John Tagnesi, Les Veach and Ben Weber. Councilor John Hill was absent.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com