$850K earmark: Jeff School needs Senate OK

news-jeff-sch-perrielloJefferson School Community Partnership prez Martin Burks, Vice Mayor Holly Edwards, and Congressman Tom Perriello stoke hopes for a revitalized Jefferson School.

You've seen photos of giant check presentations, but that shot wasn't available at a recent Jefferson School event because the $850,000 heralded for the African-American Heritage Cultural Center hasn't exactly landed in anyone's happy hands. The appropriation has passed a House of Representatives subcommittee, and while it's expected to pass the full House, it's still got to get through the U.S. Senate.

Despite that uncertainty, several dozen Jefferson School alumni and supporters showed up October 19 to celebrate with Congressman Tom Perriello, who has been pushing the appropriation.

Martin Burks, president of the private citizen-owned entity that's going to rehabilitate the school into a multi-purpose civic center, announced that some demolition will start in November and that a $3 million private donation has been made to the Heritage Center foundation. Anticipated occupancy date: spring 2012.

"Soon it will be a destination for people coming to Charlottesville," said Vice Mayor Holly Edwards.

Already, the City has committed nearly $6 million in economic development funding, and last month, City Council approved an option that will let the Jefferson School Community Partnership buy the historic school for $100,000, an amount the city is funding through another economic development pot.

The city will rent back the bulk of the space as a renovated Carver Recreation Center. According to an October 18 letter of intent, the City's rent will start at $32,442 a month for 33,133 square feet, a price of $11.75 per square foot.

PVCC president Frank Friedman and the YMCA's Dennis Blank, whose non-profit organizations plan to become future tenants of the so-called Jefferson School City Center, were among the several dozen attendees. Still needed, however, is an $11.5 million construction loan.

"We hope to have it wrapped up this week or next," says Partnership member Frank Stoner.

The celebratory event came just four days after Perriello wrecked his 2005 Ford Ranger (and was charged with an improper lane change). So how did the barnstorming incumbent get there? The old-fashioned way: he borrowed his brother's Mercury Mountaineer.


Tom Perriello bringing back home Federal Funny Money that he borrowed on our behalf. Just in time for the election. You're a real Santa Claus Tom!

Actually Tom Perriello hasn't brought back any money. Personally, I doubt the Senate is interested in Jefferson School. It is so funny how this project has gone from less than $10M in 2003 with expensive building costs to around $17M in 2010 with cheap building costs. Oh, maybe the addition of a parking garage has helped pump up the costs. Who needs a parking garage at Jefferson? The tenants don't. That's why it was decided in 2003 that not even a parking deck was needed because of existing parking and the parking along Fourth St. Oh, since then things have changed. With plans to remove parking along West Main and plans to renovate the old Albemarle Hotel there is an increased demand for parking. Boy, one of the owners, Frank Stoner, will be very happy since he will not have to pay for his clients' parking. Now, let me get this strainght, the city has sold Jefferson and Carver Recreation Center for $100,000 dollars to a private corporation that had contracted with the city that, if the project is unsuccessful in being self-sustaining the property would revert back to the city. Now it won't. It stays with the owners which includes, you've guessed it, Frank Stoner. Does this mean that the property will not be deeded over to a Jefferson School Foundation in five years? Will Frank Stoner be a member of this Foundation if does get ownership of the property in five years. Why is the city giving Carver away and then renting it back for $30k+ a month or $389304 per year? Is this to help subsidize the rents of the othr tenants and to allow the city a voice in the future of the building as the lead-paying tenant? Alas, Paul Harvey is dead and we will never know the "rest of the story." Frank Stoner's organization the Free Enterprise Forum has just "suggested" that the Count take over the city-owned water works at Ragged Mountain through eminent domain. I wonder if the city thinks this multi-million dollar giveaway will bring him around to its side in the argument or at least remove the threat to Ragged Mountain. Hint to the city: the sale of the old waste water treatent plant to Frank Stoner at below-market prices a few years ago didn't. Didn't the city anticipate that the school board was going to opt for the $20m option in redistricting its schools and that they will be needing local tax money? Did Council forget thae Belmont Bridge? Can the city really afford to giveaway property and then rent it back? Are they planning to raise taxes to pay for all of this? Would it have been worth ta few thousand to ask somebody who actually knows something about this kind of financial dealings? Just askin' folks.

shovel ready!

Cville Eye this is why I laugh so loudly when people want to talk about the City beng run by socialists. What a joke. They are about as fascist as it comes. They gave away the downtown park to Capshaw, they gave away DT Parking to the Omni, they are giving this away, theya re trying to give McINtyre Park away.

5 people should not have the right to give away large plots of public property. It should have to pass a referendum.

HA this whole deal really passed muster? I think it's time we go ahead and see about doing a recall election to throw out Norris, and a few others.

TP wpould wrap his arms around anything that will promote his Democrat agenda......spending money "look what I did for YOU!"

Shovel ready?- I'll tell you what he is shoveling.

I am sure that this earmark was attached to the refuse bill............

Let's cut the lies out before they start. The study done in 2003 indicated that the project should cost less than $10M.

Asbestos was abated in the building years ago. That's why the 4-year-olds were in the building.

The mayor here is someone who builds new buildings for the homeless addicts so they don't need to live in old run down buildings.

Wait. So the city can give away a multi-million property to a developer for 100 grand, but needs to raise taxes to pay for the schools?

How about sell it off for what it's worth, and use that to pay for the schools.

"How about sell it off for what it’s worth, and use that to pay for the schools."

But how are elected officials supposed to pay back the developers and business leaders that fund their campaigns? You don't think those people put out that money for philanthropic purposes do you?

(just in case it isn't clear I am agreeing with 'Old Timer' but just being a smart @ss in the process)

and again, look who showed up "just in time" so he could make it his "gift" to Charlottesville- it is his way of kissing babies to get votes-

I think the earmark should be used for a far better purpose, more studies on dredge vs new dam.

It's a shame the building is architecturally uninteresting(at best). Some would say just plain ugly.

It's not intuitive, but this building could be a liability for the City and not an asset.

Keep in mind that a building may contain significant quantities of asbestos, lead paint, PCBs, etc. While I don't know the estimate for abating this building, this certainly plays into this situation and could actually drive the value down far enough for $100K to be in the ball park of a reasonable price.

The City would not even have the option of demolishing this building without first abating it. So, the cost for abating the building, much less the cost of renovation, could exceed the value of the land. And one thing is absolutely for sure, we don't want an empty building like this to provide a crash pad for the homeless and/or addicts this close to Downtown.

One more piece of the puzzle to keep in mind when evaluating this deal.