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CVTC property's bonds paid, clearing way for redevelopment

View story at The News & Advance...The outstanding bonds on the state-owned Central Virginia Training Center property are paid off as of Wednesday. 
The debt on the CVTC site in Madison Heights, a medical facility with more than a century of history that shuttered in 2020, was paid off using $25 million in state general funds Sen. Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg, secured during this year's General Assembly session.  

Newman earlier this year indicated his hope the bonds would be settled through a defeasement process by mid-2023. Gov. Glenn Youngkin's administration worked with Wall Street to dramatically move up the timeline, according to a news release Newman issued Wednesday.  

Newman said the bonds being paid off is an exciting day for the entire Central Virginia region as the CVTC property is now a crucial step closer to redevelopment opportunities. 

"The retirement of all state debt associated with the CVTC property enables us to proceed with important next steps to see the 350 acres of beautiful land on the James River redeveloped and revitalized a full 14 years ahead of schedule," Newman said in the release.

Newman said he is grateful to Virginia's secretaries of administration and finance, respectively, and their teams for getting to a crucial point.

"And looking forward, I am encouraged by the strong team of local government officials and economic development experts who will continue running the ball down the field to ensure the CVTC property becomes an economic engine and a source of pride for all of Central Virginia,” Newman said. 

The senator also thanked Youngkin for being a committed partner in the process, as well as the Virginia Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, Committee Director April Kees and Committee Co-Chairs Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, and Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, for their dedication to completing the task.

In 2017, the General Assembly appropriated $270,000 for an environmental site assessment of the CVTC property. A year later, the legislature appropriated $250,000 for the next phase of the environmental study.

In August 2018, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services released a report on the anticipated outstanding bond balance for the date of the planned CVTC facility closure, along with the anticipated outstanding bond balance each year thereafter.

According to that bond schedule, the outstanding bonds for CVTC would be paid in 2037.

Going forward, the property will be appraised and then, by state code, it will be offered for sale to Amherst County. The Virginia Department of General Services is expected to market the site for sale to the private sector. 

The county has worked with the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance on a master plan for redevelopment. That plan earlier this year presented to the Amherst County Board of Supervisors outlines the potential for a mix of commercial, industrial and residential development options, including reuse of some of the site's buildings for economic development. 

Demolition of many buildings on site also is part of the master plan. 

Megan Lucas, CEO and Chief Economic Development Officer of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, in the release thanked Newman for his vision and leadership in greatly reducing the timeline for settling the outstanding debt. 

"Eight years ago, when we identified the CVTC property as a significant regional project, we knew there were several major hurdles to include the creation of a master redevelopment plan and the outstanding bond debt on the property," Lucas said. "With Senator Newman’s support, the timeline for sale and development has been compressed from 14 years to more near term.”

Amherst County Interim Administrator Jeremy Bryant said the county is thankful for Newman's hard work and many agencies and individuals who worked to remove the outstanding bonds. 

"Amherst County looks forward to working with the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance and other partners to develop the property into something that Amherst County and its citizens can be proud of," Bryant said. "Removing the bonds is a step in the right direction." 

Victoria Hanson, executive director of the Economic Development Authority of Amherst County, said removing the bonds clears the way for a developer to bring new life, capital investment and jobs to the CVTC site. The closure of the county's one-time largest employer resulted in loss of 1,600 jobs and $87 million in annual economic activity, she said. 

“This is an important step to unlock the tremendous redevelopment potential of CVTC," Hanson said.