Virginia officials disclosed a new building plan yesterday for the troubled Center for Innovative Technology near Dulles International Airport but acknowledged they had failed to gain the proposed three-building complex access to a major highway.
The access issue will be one of the major issues facing Ronald I. Carrier, who is stepping down as president of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., today and is due to become head of the state-sponsored research center next week.
State officials sought to play down the access issue yesterday, but the developers who donated the land for the center said they were troubled seriously by it.
"Our deed of donation to the CIT is conditioned on getting access to [Va. Rte.] 28," said Richard R.G. Hobson, attorney for Samir Kawar, the Jordanian businessman who gave part of the land for the center and is planning a 3 million-square-foot development next to it.
Alan I. Kay, the other influential developer who donated land to the CIT, also acknowledged his firm is concerned. "It would have an affect on our plan as well," said Kay, who is planning to build a large hotel and office building complex there.
"There are a lot of things that have to be squared away," said David A. McCloud, who has struggled for much of the past year under former governor Charles S. Robb and current Gov. Gerald L. Baliles to ease problems at the center. McCloud, Baliles' chief of staff, said he believed that the problems, including access to the highway, were manageable.
"I don't see it as any more difficult or any more than a problem than hundreds of little construction issues that have to be dealt with . . . . It's almost routine," McCloud said.
Baliles got a private, two-hour tour and review of the center earlier this week. On Monday he will announce that Carrier will replace embattled center President Robert H. Pry, according to officials in Richmond.
Pry resigned last month amid mounting concerns of administrative chaos at the center, an ambitious project begun under Robb to boost high technology research at state schools and lure high-tech industries to the state.
Virginia officials said yesterday that they are scrambling to persuade the National Capital Planning Commission to reverse a decision last month in which the federal agency opposed the center's proposed access to heavily traveled Rte. 28 (Sulley Road) because it would create too much congestion and interfere with access to the federally owned airport.
An NCPC staff lawyer said yesterday that without the commission's approval, access to Rte. 28 would have to be eliminated from the center complex. The commission urged state officials to restudy access to the center, including "thoroughly examing alternative access schemes."
The commission decision was not mentioned by center officials yesterday in their appearance before the Virginia State Retirement System. Center officials said the access road would be built as they sought about $12 million financing from the state employe pension fund.
An official of the Federal Aviation Administration, which must approve changes to Rte. 28 because part of it runs across Dulles property, told the NCPC during the March hearing that refusing access could delay the oft-delayed and revised center project for as much as a year.
Hobson said that center officials failed to inform his client of the crucial hearing before the planning commission, which has authority to review projects affecting federal lands. "We weren't involved, but we are now," Hobson said.
McCloud said the new plans call for a 60,000-square-foot building to house the center at a cost of $5.2 million; a 66,000-square-foot building for use of a consortium of computer software firms that will cost $4.8 million, and a 24,000-square-foot, multimedia center to be used as an information center for industries considering locating in Virginia. The building would be connected to a $4.8 million garage.
McCloud told the retirement officials the project would be sound because it eventually would be worth more than $30 million, compared to the retirement system's $12 million investment. McCloud said he expected the retirement board to decide on its participation within several weeks.