By MEGAN EICHENBERG
On Feb. 13, the University of Mary Washington Foundation announced its purchase of the Twi-Lite Motel, located in the former Park ‘n’ Shop shopping center.
It is the foundation’s latest acquisition for the future retail mixed-use site, Eagle Village.
The Foundation paid $1.5 million for the motel after secretly being under contract for about one year, said UMW Foundation CEO Jeff Rountree.
Eagle Village is owned and managed by the University of Mary Washington Foundation, a private 501c3 organization, and no state funds or student fees are being used for the project.
The foundation’s endowment, which also funds university scholarships, professorships, student programming, academic programming, and other special projects remains untouched, as the project is financed through a loan from Bank of America, said Rountree.
A Feb. 17 Free Lance-Star article said the price the Foundation paid is $808,000 more than the motel’s assessed value.
However, Rountree said the Free Lance Star quoted the city’s tax assessment on the Twi-Lite Motel, which is not a market appraisal or true value of the land and buildings.
“The tax assessment is a political ratio that determines how much tax a property owner pays the city, not what one would pay for the property. Typically, tax assessments are way lower than actual market appraisals, as is the case with Twi-Lite,” Rountree said.
“In the end, the true value of any piece of real estate is what it is worth to the buyer. Because of its location, frontage on Rt. 1, and our need to expand our footprint at Eagle Village to accomplish the vision we have for the project, Twi-Lite was definitely worth $1.5 million to the UMW Foundation,” said Rountree.
Rountree said the motel’s location factored into the decision to purchase the building.
“Securing Twi-Lite allows us to open up the view into the center, or have additional land to alter the current property into something new,” Rountree said.
Rountree said the Foundation has no plans for the building until demolition, which is not likely occur for at least six months.
All utilities have been turned off, and the Foundation donated contents such as furniture, televisions, and refrigerators to the local Goshen Baptist Church Association’s RuraLove Ministry, which helps needy families in the region.
Rountree said four or five rooms in the motel were occupied on more than a nightly basis, and two people were already planning to move and left without assistance.
“For the other three people, we quietly surveyed a number of motels that offered a similar rate in the area and struck a deal with one of the motel owners to take the Twi-Lite residents and for the same rate they were already paying,” Rountree said.
Rountree said the Foundation also provided an undisclosed amount of financial assistance to each tenant for moving costs or rent to get them started at their new home.
“I personally felt obligated to help those folks, people that are clearly down on their luck and have few options for housing,” Rountree said.
The Foundation announced its purchase of the Park ‘n’ Shop retail center on Dec. 7, 2007 for $115 million.
According to the Eagle Village website, the vision for Eagle Village is, “A pedestrian-friendly residential and retail mixed-use village for townspeople, students and faculty to shop, live, work and enjoy entertaining facilities…all within a sustainable “green” urban setting.”
The construction of Eagle Village will include multiple phases.
The target date for completion of Phase 1 is the summer 2010, and will include a pedestrian bridge over Route 1, additional student housing to include 620 beds, a transportation center for 540 cars and 200 bicycles, 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and 36,000 square feet of office space.
“For the city, Eagle Village is seen as a massive urban renewal project that will help energize an older section of the Route 1 corridor and be able to meet almost word-for word the aspirations of the city’s JumpStart! Program,” Rountree said.
According to the City of Fredericksburg website, JumpStart! Fredericksburg 2010 is a committee of the Economic Development Authority.
Its goals include identifying development opportunities and needs, rendering development examples for each city commercial area with recognized needs, and improving quality of life amenities and enhance economic development opportunities.
Past Jumpstart! Projects include providing $5,000 funding to the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts to upgrade their facility, $24,000 to Kybecca for façade and streetscape improvements, and $5,000 to The Grffin Bookshop and Coffee Bar for expansion.
“For the students and faculty, we are creating an exciting urban village of shops, offices, and places for people to live. Specific to the students will be premium apartment style housing of a quality level we have never enjoyed at UMW,” said Rountree.
Rountree says the Foundation has received hundreds of e-mails and letters about Eagle Village through the Eagle Village website located at www.umw.edu/eaglevillage, and that he has personally read and responded to each piece of feedback.
Rountree has also been working with Andréa Livi Smith’s Historic Preservation 469 Laboratory in Preservation Planning course, which focuses on Eagle Village development.
The class created an anonymous survey with questions about desired food, shopping, service, and entertainment establishments and design preferences.
“We decided to create the survey in order to involve as much of the UMW community as possible in coming up with plans and ideas for Eagle Village. We wanted to get student perspectives on the project in particular,” said senior Carley Leins.
Leins said over 450 people have taken the survey so far, located at http://www.surveymonkey.com.
“Together the class and our professor, Andi Livi-Smith, brainstormed the ideas by looking at the main issues posed by Eagle Village and forming the questions around those important issues,” said Leins.
There is also a UMW Eagle Village Student Survey Forum Facebook group linking to the survey.
“Students should take this survey because this is a really important issue for the University and we believe that they should have input and be heard on this issue,” said Leins.
Leins said the class plans to leave the survey up until March 25.