VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — For the second time in a month, Vanguard Landing took its case to the Virginia Beach Development Authority (VBDA).
The question before the authority: Should a $2.85-million, no-interest loan from taxpayers be “called,” or should Vanguard Landing be given an extension?
Vanguard Landing is a 75-acre site along Princess Anne Road, and sells itself as a safe, intentional, interactive and inclusive community where people with intellectual and developmental differences can live.
Vanguard Landing, a nonprofit corporation, wants to build the $40 million housing community. However, the city auditor recently determined the corporation was in default of the loan, which was approved unanimously by City Council in 2013 and signed in 2014. It’s been eight years, but nothing had been done.
Vanguard Landing was given a one-month extension by the VBDA in mid-May to get its financial orders in line and bring back proof it had enough money in the bank.
Dorothy Clark, who lives in an integrated community, spoke against Vanguard Landing on Tuesday.
“It’s been said that people like me, and I know it for a fact, want to live in inclusive neighborhoods not segregated neighborhoods where the only people who live there have disabilities. They want to live in a regular community, go where they want to go, do what they want to do, and live the life of their own choosing. People with disabilities, with the right support, can live in an inclusive neighborhood, can work in an inclusive, environment, and have friends… So I am opposed to Vanguard Landing,” Clark said.
Also opposed to the Vanguard Landing concept is Arc of Virginia, which believes in the integrated approach preferred in Virginia.
Dave Redmond has a daughter who lives with autism. He says Vanguard Landing’s project would simply provide another choice.
“She could live in a supportive group environment like Vanguard Landing. I know she will need choices. She will need options. What she does not need, or anyone with a developmental disability does not need, is to be pigeonholed,” he said.
With those comments as a backdrop, Vanguard Landing came to the VBDA. What they were looking for was an extension of time in their forbearance period.
The first good news Vanguard Landing showed on Tuesday was $2.1 million in the bank — much more than the last VBDA meeting in mid-May when they showed about $250,000 living hand-to-mouth. Vanguard Landing’s attorney, Eddie Bourdon, told the authority members last month that they have an “account with seven digits in it.”
That account was not picked up by City Auditor Lyndon Remias, who at the time determined Vanguard Landing was in default of their $2.85-million, interest-free loan from the city taxpayers. The default was not due to financial failures, but failure to meet conditions of the loan, like having one structure built.
When Bourdon revealed the account with seven digits in it, the Authority continued the forbearance period for 30 days to find out how much money Vanguard Landing had. As 10 On Your Side first reported Monday night, they indeed had $2.1 million confirmed.
Vanguard Landing has said their failure to build a structure is due to stricter flood regulations that delayed site approvals across the board and for months.
We are told there was pressure for those supporting Vanguard Landing to “show me the money” as Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson told us when we first reported on Vanguard Landing. Pledges quickly became deposits.
After the initial hearing Tuesday, the VBDA went into a closed session and after about an hour emerged with a motion: “Within 60 days, the borrower shall make a lump sum principal payment of $500,000 on the amount on the promissory note.”
Vanguard Landing in May also wanted an 18-month extension for the forbearance period to allow further discussions on calling the $2.85-million loan.
Vanguard Landing didn’t get 18 months during Tuesday’s meeting, but instead the forbearance will continue for 12 months until June 15, 2022.
The vote Tuesday by the VBDA was unanimous, but the motion was a compromise among those in favor of Vanguard Landing and those opposed.
10 On Your Side asked Virginia Beach Development Authority Chair Lisa Murphy what led to the compromise.
“We felt like since they had the money, we wanted to get back as much as we could of the city’s money sooner rather than later. Twelve months gives them the ability to perform, and we wanted to make it clear we would be paid off when they do a construction loan,” she said.
Murphy also made it clear that staff has been given direction if the terms are not met in one year, the VBDA will begin foreclosure proceedings as they were read during conditions of the motion.
“And if there is a breach of the terms of this resolution the staff is directed to issue a foreclosure on the loan,” the motion read.
Bourdon took it all in.
“It wasn’t what we were hoping to see. I don’t think it is a big problem… We appreciate the city providing the interest-free loan, providing that everything will happen when we get the site plan approved,” he said.
Murphy also said the city will “bend over backwards” to help Vanguard Landing get the site plan approved, and if they don’t get one approved in one year, then it is basically on Vanguard Landing.