Archived Story

Official corrects inaccuracies on Hayden School project

Published 11:37am Saturday, November 10, 2012

To the Editor:

Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia would like to correct inaccuracies in the “Stop Hayden from being knocked down” Your Turn column by Thomas Councill, which ran on Nov. 7.

They are as follows:

* Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia does not plan to demolish the building or to build a club, gas station or other business.

We are solely committed to developing the property into a mixed-use historical facility (“Public hearing for Hayden,” Oct. 27).

This has always been our aim — to build a project that will be a source of pride and inspiration to the entire community. We have never considered nor have any plans to demolish the building, or abandon the project.

* Mr. (Barry) Cheatham was appointed to our board two years after the agreement was executed.

Mr. Cheatham neither runs Senior Services nor owns the land.

The sales contract does not require us to improve the building within seven years, but requires the usual construction/demolition bond.

* Finally, the article states we do “not have enough money to do the project.” This is correct.

We do not have enough money in our accounts to write a check for this project.

However, based upon the overall pro forma, several lenders are willing to finance the project.

We are working with our attorneys, accountants and consultants to complete the financing package for this project.

The funding of this project is contingent upon final approval of the rezoning application.

Debbie Schwartz
Director of development and community relations
Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia

  • Makalani

    Mr. Councill: Carry on Brother!

    Suggest Removal

  • Makalani

    RE: “You have written articles, and taken positions on tax increases, schools, etc….”

    This is fair criticism. Yes — I am very vocal — sometimes to the point of being obnoxious — about holding politicians/bureaucrats accountable but what has it gotten me? NADA! ZIP! ZILCH! The City raised taxes — Gov McDonnell will get his tolls and the Franklin School board continues to be dysfunctional/not holding anyone accountable for abysmal student performance!

    I understand your passion/zeal/drawing a line in the sand over Hayden! I also believe that the downtown power brokers — who have the patience of Job – have not let this bldg sit and deteriorate for 30+ years to be denied NOW whatever “advantage” they can glean from Hayden!

    But on the flip side of the coin — perhaps being magnanimous — if that is possible LOL — the downtown powerbrokers were giving those who hold the bldg sacred/love it– time to get their acts together to save/refurbish the bldg.

    RE: “… but why haven’t you clearly stated a case against City Council-government created blight[?]”

    To answer your question — I borrowed catchphrases from a favorite Black heroine&hero — Fannie Lou Hamer & Malcom X:

    “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired” of that old derelict bldg blighting the neighborhood. I want it REFURBISHED or GONE — “by any means necessary!”

    But by all means — hold their feet to the fire — make them cross every “T” — dot every “I” and follow their own rules! But let’s hope that your obstructionist tactics/zealotry/watchdog activities don’t eventually cause the bldg to sit derelict for another 30+ years!

    Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      But let’s hope that your obstructionist tactics/zealotry/watchdog activities don’t eventually cause the bldg to sit derelict for another 30+ years!
      I’m not obstructing. The deal is done, I couldn’t stop this, even I wanted to. I’m trying to inform the public. I’m hoping that an informed public will be a positive force in saving the building and in negotiating Rec Depart use.

      The City has no plans to build, upgrade, remodel, expand, or buy any facility or land to build on for the recreation department. The Recreation Department has zero priority for the City Council so this deal is the only deal for improving facility access for the children.
      I want the building open for use by the Rec Department.

      I’m hoping that the community will demand that the council renegotiate the contract to add a revert clause. Let Senior Services try, but if they fail, keep the building and land. With a revert clause, they can be as lazy and negligent as they want with this city asset.

      If they must tear it down, then the city will still have the land, we can organized and build a shell building on that spot.

      Don’t worry you will find happiness regardless of what I say. If Senior Services is able the building is renovated. If they are not, it will be torn down. Mayor Ashburn, Councilwoman Hilliard and their alliance will see to it.

      Suggest Removal

  • Councill

    employee2 said, “You miss the point, just because you do not have the papers that you want, you assume the worst.”

    You are incorrect with this assertion.

    The City of Franklin Parks and Recreation Committee was discussing the Hayden project because it is tasked with making recommendations on its use for recreation. The City Manager told the committee that he would tear the building down if the project failed.
    Ask any member of the committee for verification of what I just said, that meeting was well attended?

    I wondered why he would mention failure of the project, and why did he say he would tear it down? I asked various city officials my question, and learned about the demolition bond.

    I didn’t assume it could be torn down. I was told it could and would be torn down.

    I wondered why he said “if it failed.” I asked various city officials questions on the possibility of project failure. This is how I learned that they had not done anything to verify anything, or determine if the project can succeed.

    I didn’t assume the project could fail. I was informed on the possibility of failure.

    I’m a member of the Rec Advisory Committee, and we asked Senior Services to present their proforma, etc. as part of their presentation. Which they did.

    I looked at the proforma and it did not add up.

    I didn’t assume the numbers are wrong. I looked at the numbers.

    I have done business with the city. They required me to show proof of income, letters of credit, etc. before they would deal with me. I assumed that a project of this magnitude would have some paper work that the public could see.

    I talked to the Director of Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the City Manager, the City’s Finance Director, the several officials within the Department of Community Development. And as of today they all say, that they have not seen a file and don’t know if one exist. They will look and let me know.

    I didn’t assume there is a lack of documentation. I was told that there is a lack of documentation.

    I’m a core member of the redevelopment committee. I’ve attended meetings for years, and I have copies of plans and maps in my personal possession. The City has discussed redeveloping this area in the past.
    I did not assume that they want to redevelop. I participate in the talks, and I know that this area is on the table for redevelopment.

    I had read the contract a few years ago, and I remembered that the property does not return to the city once sold.

    I didn’t assume the contract did not have a buy back or a reverse clause. I read the contract and didn’t see these clauses.

    The only person who assumed anything in this dialogue is you. The fact that the public is unable to review the project should be disturbing to everyone who believes in good and open government.

    Suggest Removal

    • employee2

      I stand somewhat corrected. Maybe you should try contacting the responder to your letter:
      Debbie Schwartz
      Director of development and community relations
      Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia

      Suggest Removal

  • Makalani

    Mr. Councill:
    With all due respect to your very diligent watchdog activities to keep the downtown power brokers from sticking it to the taxpayers — I have a different perspective of the Hayden bldg — literally.

    The ghosts of that corpse of a dead bldg have been staring at me from my family home on Cemetery St/Hayden Dr. home for 30+ years. If I have to pay more taxes for some “downtown slicksters” or “out-of-town shysters” to make a few bucks remodeling or tearing that eyesore down — I will gladly bend over and grab my ankles! I won’t even use my $$store petroleum jelly!

    No matter how famous/renowned/successful/accomplished a person — when they die — they are buried (maybe with the exception of Josef Stalin!)

    When a bldg — historical/sentimental value notwithstanding — outlives its useful economic life — it should be revitalized for another use/restored to its original glory or torn down.

    After 30+ years — it is time to do ONE or the OTHER with that corpse of a bldg. How either happens — I don’t care!

    But I understand your POV! By all means please keep up your very conscientious watchdog activities!

    Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      I understand your point of view, but I suggest to you that instead of accepting higher taxes, government mismanagement, and a possible redevelopment, etc., you should support holding those in charge accountable for their inaction, willingness to blight your area, and reduce your rental profits.

      Go to Emporia, they have an old school in the heart of their downtown. They put sky blue colored boards with painted clouds over the windows, and made sure it looked nice. It has been empty for years. Franklin didn’t do this with Hayden. They didn’t care because it is in your neighborhood. You need to realize that they always wanted to tear it down. Now you’re given them permission to do their plan, because they have more stamina than you do. As Spike Lee yelled in his movie School Daze, WAKE UP!

      Mayor Ashburn and Hilliard didn’t care because it is in your neighborhood. They don’t care about Black history. They don’t see us. They don’t feel our pain. They feel that they can abuse you and your pocket because you don’t realize that they now are the ones who are in front of the coalition that wants to drain the South Side.

      Mayor Raystine Ashburn and Councilwoman Hilliard have been on the city council for years. Long enough to remedy the situation. Why haven’t you held them accountable?

      The City Council created the blight that bothers you. The City Council wanted the blight that you are complaining about. You have written articles, and taken positions on tax increases, schools, etc. but why haven’t you clearly stated a case against City Council- government created blight. Ashburn, Hilliard, and their alliance did this to you. Make correcting them part of the solution.

      Suggest Removal

  • Councill

    — for WHATEVER reason[s] — and the building ends up being demolished — so what?

    Care because it is in your self-interest to care. On Monday, November 26, 2012, at 7:00 pm, the Franklin City Council under the leadership of Mayor Raystine Ashburn, Councilwoman Mary Hilliard and their alliance will hold a public hearing seeking your input on their borrowing $2,650,000.00.

    YOU and employee2 don’t care about Hayden, the recreation department, the local quality of life, but you should care about this $2,650,000.00 loan. They are already talking about raising taxes to pay the money back. Whose taxes are going up? Maybe your real estate taxes. Which will cut into your profits as a landlord? Which I hope will cause the public to demand a reduction in staff in employee2’s department.

    But if you muster enough energy to think about the Hayden spending, you might figure out that the City could possible sell the land for a profit. PROFIT as in more money, if they could get a $1,000,000.00 they wouldn’t have to borrow $2,650,000.00, just $1,650,000.00.

    If no one cares about Black history, etc. care about our taxes. Why give it away? Sell it for money.

    We got stuck with SPSA problems because people in the City government like employee2 didn’t read the contracts, etc. We got stuck with a bad cable deal for the same reason. It is time to be pro active. At least try to know what’s going on.

    Suggest Removal

  • employee2

    Sad Tommy, just sad. It is all a conspiracy in your mind.

    Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      Cute, I don’t know who you are or what you do for the city, but give me the financials, and I won’t have to speculate.

      I want the project to succeed so we can use it for recreation, what’s your motivation for your 2 cents?

      Suggest Removal

      • employee2

        You miss the point, just because you do not have the papers that you want, you assume the worst.

        Suggest Removal

  • Councill

    Here’s the deal, the best I’ve been able to piece it together.

    Estimated cost of doing the renovation = $10,000,000.00.

    Option Contract Consideration = $1.00

    Purchase Price = $400,000.00

    Value of the land and building sold = $778,700.00

    City willing to mitigate environmental problems = not to exceed $400,000.00

    The project will be financed by tax credits (40%), loans (56%), and city (4%). PROBLEM HERE, this makes no sense. The contract says that there are equity partners.

    I can’t find out who they are, and the City isn’t telling. To be equity partners, they need to put in cash. No one is talking about their cash contribution either. OK…

    I’ve talked to the City Manager, the Finance Department Director, the Community Development Office, and the Director of the Housing Authority, and so far no one has a file containing the financials. However, they say they are looking for the proforma which has been seen, maybe not kept, but seen.

    So far no one from the City knows of anyone who has done any kind of analysis to see if the project can succeed. No one knows if Senior Services has the capacity to pull off the deal.

    The Wednesday, May 27, 2009, The Tidewater News article titled Council votes to sell Hayden School, reported that the land (six acres) and building was sold for $400,000.00.

    The city will pay to mitigate any environmental problems, up to the amount of the purchase price.

    Suggest Removal

  • Makalani

    It is very easy to over-think things and to make them unnecessarily complicated.

    The Hayden bldg. has been sitting vacant for 30+ years — a derelict neighborhood eyesore that would never be tolerated on the Northside of town!

    If SOMEBODY — ANYBODY has a plan to revitalize — remodel — revamp and make the building useful — then they should be given the green light — doubts notwithstanding! If their plans fall through — for WHATEVER reason[s] — and the building ends up being demolished — so what? The land can be reused for other purposes with a fitting memorial to the old bldg/Ms. Hayden.

    There is nothing sacred about a bldg. If the bldg. was scared — the people who love it and consider it sacred would not have let it sit for 30+ years — deteriorating — dishonoring Ms. Hayden’s legacy/memory.

    Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      I’m not over thinking anything. I want this project to succeed. The City has no plans or budget to meet the facility needs of the Recreation Department. Senior Services has agreed to allow a small amount of Rec Department use. They are the only game in town for advancing the Department. If they fail, the Rec Depart can’t use the building.
      If they fail, the land does not come back for Rec Department use. It is just gone.
      History is nice, but I want to see it used for the kids.

      Mayor Ashburn, Councilwoman Hilliard and their alliance don’t care about city recreation department or recreation for the city’s children. Last year, they had a youth program budget of $12,000.00 and the department gave back $5,000.00. $5,000 for all the children in the City. Its pathetic.

      I want them to make sure this project works.

      Suggest Removal

  • Councill

    If you care about saving Hayden talk to Mayor Ashburn and Councilwoman Hilliard. Tell them to publicly answer the questions and give you the information listed below.

    Also, tell them to release this information to the local newspaper, and the New Journal and Guide, Norfolk.

    Lastly tell them to put this information on the City’s web site, cable channel, and put hard copies out in the Community Development Department.

    Information That Should be Released to the Public Before the November Public Hearing

    The City’s analysis of Senior Services ability to do the project – Senior Services’ solvency, liquidity, cash flow, and liabilities

    Disclosure of real parties of interest: the investors and equity partners

    The City’s determination of the land and buildings fair market value

    Sources of income, and the amount of income expected

    The loan amount that Senior Services will obtain.

    Detailed statement of costs

    Purchaser’s Hayden Project Pro forma Statement

    Oak Street Traffic Impact Study

    City’s Project Feasibility Study

    Project Marketing Study

    The file containing City staff review and comments

    Questions that Should be Answered before the November Public Hearing

    Did Senior Services prepare a statement showing an estimate of all costs? If yes, who reviewed it? Where is it?

    Did anyone from the City review Senior Services feasibility study? Who did it? What was their determination? And, where is it?

    What is the fair market value of the Hayden land and building? How was it determined? Who made the determination?

    What was the fair market value of the property when the contract was made?

    Who are the buyers? Who are the equity partners? What are their names or names of their board members?

    Who are the public figures that have an interest in the project?

    Suggest Removal

  • spider68

    Most citizens in Franklin know that Mr. Councill has a tendency to run off half-cocked about anything the city tries to do.

    Thank you for setting the record straight.

    Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia does not plan to demolish the building or to build a club, gas station or other business.

      I did not say that Senior Services had a plan or is a part of a plan to demolish the building. What I’m saying is that the pro forma that I was given to review did not show an ability to renovate the building or sustain the operation. If this is true, what happens to the building when the project fails?

      The deal is for a renovation. Demolition occurs when a building is being razed.
      The City Council required that the project have a demolition bond as part of the option contract to purchase. Ms. Schwartz said, “The sales contract does not require us to improve the building within seven years, but requires the usual construction/demolition bond.”
      Why did they require a demolition bond for a renovation project? The normal process that I know about requires a performance bond to insure completion of a project. Mayor Ashburn, Councilwoman Mary Hilliard and their alliance should explain to the community their reasons for requiring a demolition bond, and the benefits of having Senior Services bear the additional burden of paying a demolition bond. Also, under what circumstances will the bond be used?

      I also did not say that Senior Services planned on building a club, etc. I was pointing out that changing the area’s zone for R-1 to B-1 would allow by right this kind of business activity. My question is why extend the zone all the way to South Street, when no on needs it, other than Senior Services.

      Suggest Removal

Editor's Picks