City Council voted Tuesday evening to set aside $1.5 million from reserve funds for use by the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to purchase the White Mill property. The property consists of eight parcels, which are considered critical tracts of land for strategic redevelopment of the River District as a world class riverfront.
The redevelopment includes a planned Riverfront Park that would help attract businesses and industry to the property. The park would be built on four acres between the White Mill and the King Memorial Bridge.
The IDA will perform due diligence before the purchase. Once complete, the $1.5 million will be transferred to the IDA. The transfer would be the first payment made toward the purchase of the property. According to a purchase agreement, the IDA would make a $1.5 million payment in the current fiscal year and a $1.5 million payment in the following fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The parcels are currently owned by White Mill Development LLC, a subsidiary of Spartanburg, South Carolina-based Gibbs International. The total purchase price of the eight parcels was $2.4 million plus closing costs. In addition, Gibbs spent $1.5 million to abate asbestos and lead paint in the White Mill itself and other structures that were eventually demolished.
In other matters Tuesday night, City Council voted to:
- Rezone property at 407 Holbrook St. from residential to office commercial. The rezoning will allow the property to be used as the Williams Community Resource Center. would house two dwelling units on the upper level and two offices, a conference room and exhibit hall on the lower level. The Danville chapter of the NAACP and the Danville branch of Legal Aid would occupy the lower level offices. After rezoning the property for commercial use, a special use permit was granted Tuesday night to allow residential apartments as an ancillary use.
- Transfer ownership of eight properties to the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority and two properties to the IDA. In February, the Circuit Court granted title to certain properties to the City of Danville for failure to pay taxes. The City has no need for the properties in their current state. These properties have the potential to be redeveloped or combined with other properties owned by DRHA or the IDA and disposed of in the future.
- Amend the budget to provide for receipt and appropriation of a grant in the amount of $237,832 from the University of Virginia and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute for child obesity treatment programs. The grant has been awarded to the Parks and Recreation Department for use over a three-year period. A public hearing will precede the vote.
In addition to these votes, City Council held a first reading on a budget amendment for the receipt and appropriation of a $25,000 grant from the Danville Regional Foundation to develop a master plan for Westmoreland Park.
A first reading is an introductory step required by City code before certain matters can be voted upon by City Council. This step serves to provide public notice of pending action. Council could not vote on the budget amendment last night. The earliest vote that can take place will be the March 21 City Council meeting.
Also in the business session, Mayor John Gilstrap presented a proclamation for “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” and “National Fair Housing Month.”
In addition to the business session, City Council met in work sessions preceding and following the business session to continue its budget review process for the next fiscal year. The departments reviewed were economic development, community development and fire. Last week, Council reviewed parks and recreation, public works, social services, transportation and utilities.
The next discussion on the budget will take place in a work session on Tuesday, April 18.
Public hearings will be scheduled later in the budget process. Final adoption must take place no later than June 30. The final budget will serve as a blueprint for city operations from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018.
For the second work session, City Council also reviewed a presentation on retirement benefits for public safety employees. It also scheduled a vote on April 18 on a resolution to reduce the wastewater charge to the Halifax County Service Authority for service the City provides to the Virginia International Raceway. As proposed, the City would charge the normal rate. The current charge is 1.5 times the normal rate.
City Council also held a closed meeting in the work session as allowed by state law to discuss a prospective business or industry and to discuss acquisition of real property or disposition of publicly held real property.