Loudoun veterinary hospital, juvenile detention center get stimulus grants

By Derek Kravitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 3, 2009

With a state deadline looming, Loudoun County officials awarded nearly $1.5 million in federal stimulus money Tuesday to a veterinary hospital and nearly $1 million to build a juvenile detention facility in Leesburg.

Officials had not received any applications for stimulus projects by a Nov. 13 deadline but got three applications after media coverage highlighted the missed opportunity, said Danny Davis, senior project manager at Loudoun's administration office. The county extended the deadline until Nov. 24.

The owner of the veterinary hospital site, J. Michael Strickland, said he expects the facility to open by October. Strickland's practice is at the Leesburg Veterinary Hospital on Catoctin Circle, where five doctors and 25 other staff members are employed. The new facility will add three doctors and 25 employees.

The federal government's Recovery Zone Facility Bonds are a type of tax-exempt bond, set about 1 to 2 percentage points lower than the market average, for businesses in areas that have "significant poverty, unemployment, rate of home foreclosures or general distress." Roughly 80 percent of Loudoun falls under federal recovery aid guidelines.

Three businesses submitted applications for the federal loan, but supervisors chose the veterinary hospital over an alehouse and a telework center. The hospital is slated for an area about two miles south of Leesburg's corporate limits, north of Harmony Church Road on Route 15.

Loudoun's stimulus award will be submitted to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) for final approval. The state deadline is Dec. 15.

Loudoun's Board of Supervisors also unanimously approved the use of $986,000 in federal recovery development bonds for a new juvenile detention center. Officials chose that plan over a proposed expansion of the county's affordable-housing program to aid public-sector employees, including teachers and hospital workers, in purchasing a house. Supervisors said they were swayed by the nearly $256,000 in savings represented by the juvenile facility, as opposed to the $1 million commitment to the county's Affordable Dwelling Unit program.

The juvenile detention center, slated for the Shellhorn property in Leesburg, is expected to cost $1.2 million. With the federal stimulus bonds, the county expects to save more money in interest costs for this project than it could for the ADU program.

"I wish we were in a different situation and we could enhance our ADUs, but we're in a situation where we can't go forward with some of the things we want to do with schools and public safety facilities to the extent that they are needed," said Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Susan Klimek Buckley (D-Sugarland Run). "The right answer is to go with the cost savings."

Loudoun's ADU program has operated since 1994 and offers houses and apartments at below-market rates to buyers or renters who make 30 to 70 percent below the county's median household income of $102,700.

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