BLACKSBURG — Town council has authorized its town manager to enter into an approximately $1.6 million agreement with the WM Jordan Company for the design of a new police station and adjacent parking garage.
The agreement, which passed on a 4-0 vote Tuesday, will be the second interim one the town will enter into with WM Jordan this year as part of plans to build a new police station and parking garage on the old Blacksburg Middle School site. Town council approved a $185,000 contract with the company in May for conceptual work on the project.
“The second agreement entails the full design of the police department building and public parking garage,” Blacksburg deputy town manager Chris Lawrence wrote in an email. “This will result in a construction contract that will be presented to town council next spring to consider authorizing the construction of the project.”
Town manager Marc Verniel won’t be allowed to sign the agreement until Nov. 7 due to a 30-day public review period required by state law.
The police station and parking garage are part of the more than $100 million plans to turn the roughly 20 acres of vacant downtown land into a development featuring commercial, residential and civic uses.
The redevelopment, spearheaded by a firm called Midtown Redevelopment Partners, was given the green light by the town this past spring after years of debate over the old school site’s future.
The police station and parking garage are the portions of the old middle site project that Blacksburg will finance, build and own as part of a development contract with Midtown.
The town has already started putting money aside for the police station and has so far budgeted approximately $16 million for that project.
The parking garage is expected to cost $9.1 million, an amount the town will pay off over the years with tax revenue from the site itself.
The town plans to establish a special services district for the entire property to help pay for the parking garage. That would mean property owners — of either commercial or residential real estate built on the site — would pay as much as 20 cents more in a real estate tax rate until the structure is paid off.
The 20 cents from the special services district will be added to the 26-cent rate that all Blacksburg property owners currently pay.
In addition to real estate, meals and lodging tax revenue from the site will contribute to payments for the parking garage.
The conditions of the WM Jordan agreement — including the 30-day review period — are governed by the state’s Public-Private Education and Infrastructure Act, which aims to speed up and lessen the costs of local government projects through partnerships with private firms.
WM Jordan’s proposal was filed under the guidelines of the PPEA.
The new police station is slated to be 36,000 square feet, according to the town. The new station will replace the current structure at 200 Clay St., which town officials say is pushing capacity.
The parking garage will provide 373 spaces, according to plans. A small percentage of the spaces will be reserved for the police station. The rest of the spaces will be for the site’s office tenants and the general public.
The project will face Clay and Church streets, and the parking garage will be accessed from a new Church Street extension.
Councilwoman Susan Mattingly asked Lawrence on Tuesday why the number of spaces is greater than previously projected.
Lawrence said the planned number of spaces is based on discussions with Midtown about job projections and office space. He said Midtown has been in discussions with higher density office tenants.
“In the long run, you only get one chance to build a garage. In this case, you can’t just say, ‘Hey we’ll just add a floor years from now,” Lawrence said. “This is our one chance to build a garage, so the more we can get, the better.”