History - New Town Hall Project
The Town of Middleburg Town Office was built in 1964 at its current location on West Marshall Street. It originally housed all of the Town staff, to include the police sergeant. With the growth of Town operations, services, and police activity, the Town has maximized and outgrown each office. In 1991, the Police Department moved to 14 S. Madison (Health Center Building), and in late 2015, they moved to a leased space on West Federal Street.
In the Town Office at this time, there are 7 full-time staff , to include 3 staff in the upstairs that is only accessible via a narrow staircase. The Town Office has only one public meeting room, which serves as the Council Chambers, conference room, break room for staff, and public gathering space. There are no other public meeting spaces in the building. The Town has also had to conduct mold remediation three times in the past 8 years to resolve moisture and mold issues in the building. Finally, there are accessibility limitations in the current space due to the age of the building and lack of space to add certain accommodations.
In 2017, the Town Council directed staff to conduct a “Space Needs Study” to identify our current office spaces, to develop a program for a standard amount of space needed based on the current staffing, and to look at future space needs based on potential staffing changes (which are minimal). The study would also include additional public gathering spaces to serve the overall needs of the community.
Space Needs Study
The results of the study indicate the Town needs approximately 12,700 square feet to meet the Town’s current and future needs. This amount of space includes three public meeting rooms, a larger Council Chambers, functional space for both staff and the Police Department, and public restrooms to serve the community. It would also be ADA compliant. Upon hiring an architect/engineer to handle the design phase of the project in late 2020, the space needs study was re-examined and its results were re-affirmed.
Location and Design
The Town evaluated no fewer than 8 potential locations for a Town Hall . These included existing buildings and vacant land. Multiple factors were considered, to include accessibility for the public, cost of each option, and site constraints. In late 2019, the Town of Middleburg purchased a portion of the property immediate north of the existing Town Office, which added one-half acre to the existing Town Office location.
The Town Council also entered into a Letter of Intent and Purchase Sales Agreement with Salamander to relocate the already-approved location of the Town Office and Village Green, which were proffered as a part of their 2007 rezoning, to the parcel immediately adjacent to the Town’s recently-acquired property. The majority of this property will be consolidated into one parcel to provide for the new Town Hall and associated parking. The Village Green, which will be an open space area that will be available for use by the Town and its residents and can be used for community events, will be an adjacent open space owned by Salamander.
The Town Hall will be built immediately behind the location of the current Town Office building. This will allow the Town to maintain connection with the community and provide ease of pedestrian and vehicular access.
The Town worked with its architect, Glave & Holmes, and the HDRC to ensure the design was complementary to the existing architecture in Middleburg, that it reflected an appropriate feel and welcoming atmosphere, and that it blended in with its immediate neighbors. The HDRC approved the Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) for this project based on those design plans on June 17, 2021.
In addition to the issuance of the COA, the Town rezoned the additional property to match the zoning of the existing Town Office. It is in the process of pursuing a Special Use Permit to allow for a front yard setback of greater than thirty feet to allow for the development of a Town pocket park at the front of the property.
Expected Timeline & Service Delivery
With the completion of the design development plan phase, the Town is in the process of developing the construction documents. It is the Town's goal to complete the design process by November of 2021, following which bids will be accepted. It is expected that ground breaking will occur in February of 2022. Construction of the building will take approximately 12 months. The Town's goal is to begin building occupancy in February of 2023, which will then allow the existing Town Office building to be demolished, allowing for the creation of a small Town green/pocket park at the front of the property. .
By consolidating all Town operations into one location, the Town will save the amount spent on leasing the Police Dept. offices, which is currently $47,000 per year. In addition, the Town will avoid future repairs, renovations, and modifications that would be required at the existing Town Office due to the age of the building and lack of certain accessibility accommodations. Finally, the Town has digitized nearly all of its paper files, which will reduce the amount of storage space required in the new building.
Based on the schematic design cost estimates, the Council agreed to a total project budget of approximately $9.5 million for the project. After construction bids were received, the total project budget is approximately $12.3 million. The Town received four bids, with the lowest bid around $10.7 million. Cost increases are due to the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues, labor shortages, inflationary impacts, and competition for construction projects in the region. The Town's construction management firm and financial consultants all advised that they do not envision any scenario in which the costs of construction will go down in the foreseeable future.
In 2019, the Town received a presentation on the Town’s financial ability to pay for the new Town Office. The Town’s Financial Advisor provided numerous scenarios that indicate the Town’s financial strength and ability to pay for this project without impacting property tax rates and with little to no impact on other tax rates (such as Meals Tax or Lodging Tax). The Town received a $500,000 grant from Loudoun County and is pursuing other grant opportunities to offset the Town’s direct costs of the project. It also has funding in its Parking Fund that can be applied to the parking lot portion of the project, as well as funding from previous budgets to cover the architectural/engineering and construction management costs. With rates at historic lows, the Town was able to borrow $8 million for the project at an interest rate of 2.72%, with very favorable repayment options should the Town secure additional grant monies. The Town’s current revenues can cover this debt service.
To cover the additional costs mentioned above, the Town Council is pursuing an additional $2.5 million in financing. Due to historically low interest rates and the Town's current financial situation, this additional debt can be funded out of existing revenues. The Town Council has expressed a desire to pay off as much of the debt as possible in the next couple of years, once we emerge from the pandemic and the building is completed.
With all of these factors in place, the current project is financially feasible, fiscally prudent, and will not burden residents with additional taxes.