Planned development for people with intellectual disabilities in VB only given 1-month extension amid financial concerns

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side is continuing to follow road blocks faced by a planned $40-million development for people with intellectual disabilities in Virginia Beach.

The city isn’t giving Vanguard Landing, a nonprofit corporation trying to build the development, much more time to break ground. It’s been eight years, and nothing has been done.

Vanguard Landing came to the Virginia Beach Development Authority to get an extension of 18 months to get their financial orders in line.

However, they only received a one-month extension from the Virginia Beach Development Authority after the meeting.

The city auditor said Tuesday he didn’t see anything in Vanguard Landing’s books that indicated the company had more than “seven figures” in the bank, something a Vanguard Landing attorney said they did.

That attorney, Eddie Bourdon, was asked Tuesday about finances, which is the big issue with Executive Director Debbie Dear’s $40-million project.

“This is all that I am authorized to say. They have greater than seven figures in the bank and they have pledges also greater than seven figures,” he said.

There could be a problem with that, because when City Auditor Lyndon Remias performed his audit, he reported he found nothing in the Vanguard Landing books supporting that information.

“I know Mr. Bourdon mentioned seven figures. Unless it is in another account, I cannot attest to that number. Vanguard Landing is nowhere near seven figures,” he said.

The Virginia Beach Development Authority went into a closed session, and then came out and announced they were only giving Vanguard an extension of one month — until June 15 when the Virginia Beach Development Authority meets again.

It was clear during the meeting that some authority members were concerned about the revelation that Vanguard Landing may have some other significant funds not made available to Remias, which is what the authority wanted.

“If you have this money, can you pay down some of the loan? Do you still need our money?” authority member Dot Wood said to Bourdon.

Back in 2013, the Virginia Beach City Council approved giving Vanguard Landing a $2.85-million interest-free loan, which is paid for by taxpayers.

Bourdon stressed that it is important for Virginia Housing to see that the city is in partnership with Vanguard Landing in order to secure the revenue needed to build the $40 million housing complex in Pungo on Princess Anne Road.

Vanguard Landing supporters left unhappy they were not given the 18-month extension on the loan, which the city auditor determined was in default not for financial reasons, but for failure to meet certain goals during the years since 2014.

Bourdon told 10 On Your Side that getting the site approval was impossible because the city went into a shutdown following the flooding of Hurricane Matthew. Extensive flooding requires new standards for development.

Lisa Murphy, who is Chair of the Virginia Beach Development Authority, told 10 On Your Side why they only gave a month, and want the issue re-addressed at the June 15 meeting.

“We need some answers to new questions raised… There were some statements made about having seven figures in the bank. That information had not been previously provided through the audit,” Murphy said.

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