W.M. Jordan submits revised proposal for moving Newport News school bus facility

Theresa Clift
Contact Reportertclift@dailypress.com

The city has received a revised proposal from developer W.M. Jordan to relocate the school division's bus maintenance facility to make way for the Tech Center research park.

Other firms can submit proposals until Aug. 31.

In September, W.M. Jordan submitted an unsolicited public-private partnership proposal, aiming to gain control of a 32.7-acre parcel where the school bus facility now stands in the way of the planned research park and potential Jefferson Lab expansion near the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Oyster Point Road.

A public-private partnership is a contractual arrangement outlined in state law that can give private firms long-term claims on public money and property if they perform services normally done by the government. PPPs, as they are called, have been established recently for large construction projects like the now-scuttled U.S. Route 460 and the expansion and tolling of the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels.

In the spring, city and school officials agreed on a list of items to ask W.M. Jordan to change in its proposal, and sent a letter to the developer with the suggestions, City Manager Jim Bourey said.

The city is not moving forward with the revised proposal yet, Bourey said.

"We will evaluate their proposal and any other we receive and decide who to negotiate a final agreement with if we decide to proceed to an agreement with anyone," Bourey said.

The proposal was submitted in two volumes. Volume 1, which lays out the timeline and details of the project, was first released to the Daily Press in February and the revised version is now on the city website. The city has not yet released Volume 2, which covers the proposed cost and financing for the project.

City officials declined to say what they asked W.M. Jordan to change from its original proposal. There were no major changes in the public portion of the proposal, aside from a delayed timeline. The new proposal says construction will start in the fourth quarter of next year and be completed in the first quarter of 2018, when the school division can start using it. The original proposal said construction would start in the third quarter of this year, and be complete in the fourth quarter of next year.

"Their original proposal was submitted many many months ago," Bourey said when asked the reason for the delay.

W.M Jordan is proposing the new SCOT Center be built at an area bounded by Jefferson Avenue and Bland, McManus and Turnberry boulevards, just west of the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. The vacant land within those boundaries includes roughly 38 acres owned by the city, its Industrial Development Authority and the Peninsula Airport Commission.

It also contains 53 acres previously owned by W.M. Jordan President and CEO John Lawson under an LLC. Continental, an automotive parts manufacturer, occupies about half of that land. On May 1, ownership of the property was transferred to a different LLC for $0. State records do not show Lawson's name tied to the new LLC. It is unclear whether he still owns the property.

W.M. Jordan is also the developer of Marketplace at Tech Center, a retail and residential development under construction at Jefferson and Oyster Point. The developer is funding that portion of the project, while the city plans to put $34.8 million toward the research park over the next five years, an amount that Bourey has said could change.

Under the proposal, the rebuilt SCOT Center would include about 37,000 square feet for warehouse functions, about 21,200 square feet for child nutrition-related functions, about 38,750 feet for plant services/operations, and about 32,300 square feet for transportation. It would have a covered fueling station, about 8,000 square feet of covered outside storage, about 240 parking spaces for buses and about 643 total standard parking spaces for fleet, personal and visitor vehicles, according to a city summary of the proposal.

W.M. Jordan also provided construction management services under a public-private partnership for the new $4 million complex that replaced Hampton Roads Transit's Southside bus facility in Norfolk, the proposal states.

The Daily Press first reported about the city's plans to enter in to a public-private partnership for the relocation of the SCOT Center in January, when it received emails about Tech Center through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Clift can be reached by phone at 757-247-7870.

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