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State agency close to terms on Monroe
By David Macaulay, email@example.com | 247-7838
10:11 p.m. EDT, April 25, 2011
A major state agency is close to signing a deal that would bring it to Fort Monroe, the Fort Monroe Authority's executive director said Monday. Bill Armbruster, who announced at the end of last week his intention to leave the authority after it transfers from the Army to the commonwealth on Sept. 15, indicated the interest expressed by a state agency is firming up. The agency has not yet been identified.
"We have some tenants ready to go in including a major state agency. We believe we are close to finalizing that deal. We are ready to market on a commercial basis as well as a residential basis," Armbruster said.
The state agency is looking at 30,000–35,000 square feet of office space in Building 100, according to Armbruster. Some of the property it is interested is in an area that the federal government says doesn't revert to the state and forms a part of ongoing negotiations known as the Economic Development Conveyance.
Armbruster was at a meeting between Fort Monroe Authority board members and the Daily Press editorial board on Monday.
He said 279 buildings at Monroe quality for historic tax credits which means they could be adaptively reused for projects such as housing.
The authority is talking about converting some buildings that currently have a commercial used, back to residential to take advantage of tax credits.
John Hutcheson, the authority's director of operations, said the authority anticipates 50-60 Army families will continue to live in family housing at the post after the Army vacates in September out of a total of about 174 family housing units.
In addition, Hutcheson said the authority is hopeful 118 apartment units will also remain occupied.
"We think that translates to 400-ish residents," he said.
More details were also provided of a charitable foundation to raise money for the historic site.
"There has got to be a philanthropic aspect. There is a foundation," said board member Colin Campbell.
Board chairwoman Terrie Suit said all the documents to set up the Fort Monroe Foundation have been completed and the board can start making appointments. No fundraising target has yet been set.
And a new advisory committee has been set up to work with members of the public on how Fort Monroe can raise money in the future after a recent report cast doubts on the option of long term residential leaseholds.
The first meeting of the committee will be on Tuesday.
"Our goal is to make sure we have looked at everything …and to get the input from the citizens because we know they are not convinced yet that we have sufficiently answered the question about leasehold viability," said Hutcheson.
The committee aims to come up with a recommendation by November to get changes to the General Assembly in time for the next session.
"We are not a private developer looking to make a profit. Our role is to preserve the property and generate the money necessary to sustain and preserve it," said Suit.
In the early years, Fort Monroe will not break even and will look to a "continuing relationship with the commonwealth," she said.
"We do have general fund support. We can't count on that forever," Suit said.