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MWHC's request gets EDA approval
Mary Washington Healthcare bond request sails through first stage of process

Date published: 11/9/2010

BY BILL FREEHLING

Mary Washington Healthcare's request to issue bonds through Fredericksburg's Economic Development Authority sailed through with little discussion yesterday.

The Fredericksburg EDA gave preliminary approval to the company's plans to issue $30 million through the EDA for capital improvements at Stafford and Mary Washington hospitals to include the development of two cancer centers and possibly a land acquisition near Stafford Hospital.

The EDA won't vote until Dec. 13 on whether to approve Mary Washington's request to lower the fee it charges to issue bonds. By doing so, the bonds are granted municipal status, which leads to lower borrowing costs for the issuer. Mary Washington would be responsible for paying back the principal and interest.

The Fredericksburg EDA usually charges one-eighth of 1 percent of the bond balance, which would be $37,500 a year on a $30 million balance. Mary Washington has asked the Fredericksburg EDA to lower the fee to one-tenth of 1 percent, which would be $30,000 a year. That's the fee that Stafford County's EDA charges.

Kalahari Resorts made a similar fee-reduction request earlier this year, which led to weeks of controversy. Yesterday's initial meeting was markedly different, with little of the discussion or disagreements that marked the Kalahari talks. EDA member Rick Pullen did say the group shouldn't lower its standard fee, but he said he'll support the project.

Mary Washington spokeswoman Kathleen Allenbaugh said the Fredericksburg-based healthcare company is "very happy that the EDA sees the positive opportunity this project provides the community."

Allenbaugh said Mary Washington plans to sell the bonds to one bank to keep fees lower, but she said the company is still negotiating which one. The bond resolution mentions both BB&T and Wells Fargo.

The Stafford EDA will be asked to give similar approval to the bond issuance when it meets Friday. The Fredericksburg and Stafford EDAs will split the bond issuance fee proportionately based on the amount of work done in each locality. Preliminary plans indicate Mary Washington will spend about 80 percent of the money in the city. The EDAs use the fees for grants that foster economic development (see box).

The Stafford Board of Supervisors and Fredericksburg City Council also need to sign off on the bond issuance. Mary Washington hopes to have final approval Dec. 14, and to sell the bank-qualified bonds by year-end.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com


$50,000 in grants handed out by Fredericksburg EDA

The Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority awarded about $50,000 worth of grants at its meeting yesterday. The grants, which are made possible by the fees the EDA takes in as a bond conduit, are intended to help economic development, tourism and the arts in the city. The EDA actually pays the grants after the business opens. Here were the grant recipients:

Artful Dimensions received $18,540 toward the development of a cultural arts center with artist studios and gallery space at 911 Charles St., which is behind and in the same building as Castiglia's restaurant.

The Home Team Grill got $10,000 for a folding-glass front wall at its new restaurant in Fredericksburg's Eagle Village.

The Made in Virginia Store got $7,000 toward exterior improvements at its new location at 920 Caroline St.

Gallery 915 received $5,200 toward exterior improvements at its Lafayette Boulevard art-focused facility.

Virginians for High Speed Rail received $5,000 for its initiatives.

The Chamber Chorale of Fredericksburg got $2,000 toward a planned Civil War sesquicentennial event at St. George's Episcopal Church on May 7, 2011.

The Arts & Cultural Council of the Rappahannock got $2,000 toward the development of a website focused on promoting artist events in the region.