WAYNESBORO — A mixed-use development planned for the Ladd Elementary School site is on hold after the developer failed to follow through on the purchase of the 13-acre property.
Augusta County Economic Development Director Amanda Glover said the county's $4.4 million purchase contract with NAI Michael of Maryland expired last week.
Glover said Augusta County is accepting new offers for the property. She said interested parties are encouraged to contact her at the economic development office in Verona.
Augusta County Administrator Tim Fitzgerald said the county already has five or six interested potential purchasers for the Ladd property.
"We're open to proposals," Fitzgerald said. "We'll discuss them and see if we can make it work."
In Waynesboro, city officials say there had been some issues with the site plan for NAI Michael, but nothing that should have delayed the project.
Waynesboro City Planner Luke Juday said NAI Michael had requested a private street with the planned 50-unit townhome project that was to have been part of the development. That request hit a snag, though, because the developer had not initially established a homeowners association to maintain the road, a requirement for a private street to be approved
"[But] it was nothing that would have held up the project,'' Juday said.
In June of last year, Waynesboro City Council approved a performance agreement with NAI Michael that called for a mixed-use development, called Waynesboro Marketplace LLC, on the property . It would have included the townhomes, along with a hotel and retail space, including restaurants and a grocery store. Part of the performance agreement called for a $280,000 rebate on property taxes over a five-year period starting in January 2018.
Already submitted last summer was a site plan for a Lidl grocery store at the Ladd development. Lidl is a grocery chain based in the United Kingdom, with U.S. headquarters in Arlington.
At the the time, city officials said demolition of the former Ladd Elementary School was to occur over the summer of 2016, with construction starting soon after, according to city officials.
All of that was contingent, however, on the completion of the sale of the Ladd property. Fitzgerald said the county had expected to finalize the sale to NAI Michael by the end of July 2016.
But the developer asked for subsequent extensions, he explained — requests the board of supervisors granted. The holdup, Fitzgerald said, was finding a builder for the townhouse project.
"Ultimately, they decided it wasn't going to come together,'' he said of NAI Michael.
Augusta County had already committed a portion of the projected sale price to cover the $3 million cost of a county schools technology initiative.
Fitzgerald said the $3 million will go back to the county's capital account when a sale of the property is finalized.