Lovettsville, Middleburg Advance Town Office Projects

Lovettsville will have to wait just another three weeks to find out who might design and build its new town office and Middleburg isn’t far behind.

The Lovettsville town staff on Nov. 13 advertised a request for proposals soliciting responses from firms interested in designing and building the town a new, 2,125-square-foot office expansion that will connect with the existing 950-square-foot, 44-year-old office. Firms have until 2 p.m. on Dec. 12 to respond. 

Meanwhile, the Davenport & Company financial firm last Thursday presented the Middleburg Town Council with funding options the town could consider when looking to pay for its own new town office space to replace the existing 55-year-old, 2,096-square-foot office—a project Town Administrator Danny Davis said was still in the land acquisition process but “progressing well.”

In both towns, staffers are still unsure exactly how much it will cost for a new town office. In Middleburg, Davis said the town is hoping to keep costs at or below $6 million. In Lovettsville, Town Manager Rob Ritter’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Plan lists the required funding as $860,000. Ritter said that amount isn’t set in stone because the town is first waiting to see how much the responding firms will charge to complete the work. The Lovettsville Town Council is scheduled to discuss those responses, along with the Capital Improvement Plan, at its Dec. 19 meeting.

Responding firms will need to demonstrate their understanding of the scope of the project and their ability to provide innovative, practical and cost-effective solutions andquality professional planning and engineering analysis in an efficient, cost-effective and timely manner. They’ll also need to detail their experience working on three similar projects within the past five years and working with up to five clients of similar size or type in the last decade, as well as their experience preparing conceptual design plans and engaging with key stakeholders in the planning and design process. Lastly, they’ll need to identify the employees who will work on the project.

The town staff will evaluate each response based on a 100-point system, with 30 points going toward each firm’s project approach, 25 points toward their design team’s qualifications, 20 points toward their ability to meet deadlines, 15 points toward their ability to keep project costs down and five points toward their overall proposed project cost. Considered firms will be asked to visit town for an interview toclarify or elaborate on their proposals.

In Middleburg, Davis said the town staff is continuing discussions with property owners and hopes to advertise a request for proposals by late winter or early spring.

Last week, Davenport outlined a few scenarios the town could face when looking at funding options for a $6 million office, all of which assume that the town would take out a 20-year loan with an annual interest rate of 4 percent.

One scenario would see the town use $400,000 of its year-end surplus to reduce borrowing for the project, while another would see it use none of that annual surplus.

Davenport presented scenarios in which the town could help pay for the project using revenue generated by the meals tax or the lodging tax, options that could require hikes in those tax rates in the next 5-10 years.

However, David Rose, Davenport’s senior vice president, said that raising the town’s meals or lodging taxes isn’t an option the town needs to consider just yet, and might not be one it ever needs to look at. He said, for now, the town should simply monitor the project as it moves forward. “That’s my gut, but we’ll have to wait until the end of the decade to figure it out,” he said.

Mayor Bridge Littleton praised the town office project as being one that most likely won’t require the town to raise taxes in the next 20 years. “It makes me feel really comfortable that the plan we want to go with, we can do it,” he said.

Davenport is expected to further discuss funding options in summer 2020, once the town better understands how much the project will cost.