The termination letter came three and a half months after the agreement’s execution and slightly over 15 months after the developer presented its unsolicited proposal under the PPEA, Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act.
“The developer cited significantly higher construction costs and recent interest rate hikes as the primary reason for ending its agreement with the county,” said Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D-Hunter Mill) on Feb. 8.
If the proposed project had ultimately been approved, the FCRHA would have leased the ground to Foulger-Pratt, which would design, construct, and operate the affordable housing community. Fairfax County would own and operate the public library. “Our pressing public needs have not changed, starting with a new regional library, a new shelter, updated and more affordable housing,” Alcorn said.
Foulger-Pratt presented its Unsolicited Proposal per the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act (PPEA) on Oct. 27, 2021. It rendered a proposed design and build with financing considerations for the new Reston Regional Library, a multifamily/mixed-use development, and parking built on two sites totaling 4.49 acres at the intersection of Bowman Towne Drive and Town Center Parkway.
On April 12, 2022, Alcorn presented, and the supervisors approved the transfer of property to FCRAH, for Bowman Towne Court Development. According to its terms, if “the FCRHA no longer pursues the project, the FCRHA will transfer ownership of the property back to the Board.”
On May 16, 2022, Foulger-Pratt presented an Addendum to the Statement of Intent. Building A&B on the existing 2.89-acre property (0171-0003E) owned by FCRHA would comprise 192 units of affordable housing building on top of the library, parking included on site. Building C&D, on the second site, an approximately 1.6-acre board-owned lot adjacent to the 8.44-acre board-owned Reston Police Station parking lot, would comprise 158 units, residential parking, and replace at-grade police parking with 130 underground parking.
On Sept. 16, 2022, FCRHA kicked off the public engagement process for the potential affordable housing in Reston. At the time, FCRHA Chairman Melissa McKenna said, “The work is far from over, and this agreement would grant the authority to continue working through every detail — with community participation.”
In its termination letter, developer Foulger-Pratt said two conditions had changed. First, the project’s cost had increased by about 24 percent compared to its original estimates. In its 2021 Bowman Towne Court Redevelopment Unsolicited Proposal per the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act (PPEA), Foulger-Pratt said how the company brought the “advantage of financial strength through its resources and ability to attract outside capital.” The developer added, “You can count on our ingenuity to craft public/private partnerships.”
Foulger-Pratt’s May 16, 2022, addendum said its proposed financing plan was described thoroughly in its original submission. “We would propose to finance the development in two phases: Building 1, including 192 units, and Building 2, containing 258 units. Each building would be financed as a hybrid 9 percent + 4 percent LIHTC (Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program) to spread the subordinate financing request over multiple years.”
The second condition that changed is that the 24 percent increase “would delay completion of the project.” The agreement addressed early termination, and Foulger-Pratt was within its rights to do so. According to the terms of the agreement, the "Developer" had the right to terminate the agreement by Aug. 15, 2023, or at an earlier date “if the project was infeasible within the timeframe specified in the contract agreement.”
Supervisor Alcorn said that Foulger-Pratt’s withdrawal of its unsolicited proposal provided “an opportunity for the public sector to define the redevelopment approach for this site better.” He noted the construction of a new Reston Regional Library is delayed, and the existing library is at the end of its useful life. “A new building is urgently needed,” Alcorn said. “The Fairfax County Public Library is reviewing its options,”
Eileen Evon, PR and Community Outreach Chair, Friends of Reston Regional Library ( FRRL), provided a statement on behalf of FRRL. It said in part that the Foulger-Pratt proposal indicated that it did not prioritize the library: “Many members of the community agreed with this assessment … Some have also described the plan as including “a new regional library.” To the best of our understanding, this was not true. Their proposal included an empty space in a building—a “shell,” as it were … The County — at taxpayer expense — would separately have to design, construct, equip, and fund a new regional library to be installed inside that space. We hope for more and better proposals in the future.”
Alcorn said that plans for a new regional library had assumed a public-private partnership for over a decade. Voters approved $10 million in general obligation bond funding in 2012.
Impact on Affordable Housing Goals
The agreement termination could impact the joint goal of the FCRHA and Fairfax County to create 10,000 units of affordable housing by the year 2034. There is a growing list of public-private partnership development projects currently under construction, such as The Residences at North Hill, One University, and Oakwood Senior Living, but the need remains high.
In the meantime, Foulger-Pratt announced on Oct. 17, 2022, that it broke ground on a $101 million affordable housing project in Northeast D.C. On Sept. 2, 2022, Foulger-Pratt announced its 148-unit, all-affordable housing project on the edge of the H Street Corridor, the Paxton, had secured nearly $90 million in new financing and started construction. “Nearly $47M in tax-exempt bonds and $42M in local and federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity, underwritten by the D.C. Housing Finance Agency …The project also received a $29M Housing Production Trust Fund loan from the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development last year, bringing the total amount of public financing backing the project to $118M.”Visit Fairfax County Procurement and Material Management to view county documents on the Bowman Towne Court Redevelopment. https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/procurement/ppea/bowman-towne-court-redevelopment