More than a month later, Leesburg officials yet to reveal Oaklawn tenant
Leesburg Town Council on Aug. 12 approved a rezoning application from Oaklawn representative Keane Enterprises, paving the way for the heavily-rumored “economic development” project. The rezoning allows for light industrial uses at the property, and it was approved after town officials and people involved with the project signed non-disclosure agreements, keeping the company's name a secret.
Even following the rezoning, the name of the company has remained sealed from the public, including hundreds of residents living a few blocks away. The hushed nature of the project and expedited process irked Oaklawn residents, who showed up in droves to voice their opposition to the rezoning.
The Times-Mirror, through several sources familiar with the situation, reported in August the company to be Leesburg-based K2M medical devices, though K2M officials and town representatives would not confirm.
Following the rezoning, two Leesburg elected officials – Leesburg Town Council member Thomas Dunn and County supervisor Ken Reid (R), who represents the Leesburg District – said the name of the company would be disclosed at a media announcement with Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in late August.
According to Town of Leesburg administrators, the announcement hasn't come to fruition because terms of the lease between the tenant and Keane Enterprises are yet to be finalized.
Leesburg Economic Development Director Marantha Edwards said the drawn-out, back-and-forth negotiating of lease terms, especially in the current economic environment, isn't surprising. She said developers industry-wide have expressed to her lease negotiations are becoming more complex and time-consuming than in past years.
Recruiting the Oaklawn tenant was a joint project between the town, the county and state to ensure the company's new headquarters located in Virginia and, more specifically, Leesburg. Substantial economic incentives were part of the package offered to the unnamed company.
“The town does not have any control or impact on the governor's announcement,” Leesburg Town Manager John Wells said in an email to Councilman Dunn, who was inquiring about the forthcoming announcement. “Our understanding from his office is that it will not occur until the lease is signed.”
Wells continued, “Regarding lease negotiations, the town has not been, and is not, a party to the negotiations themselves so I can't speculate on the details,” Wells said. “The town has been told that this is a very complex lease and both parties are actively working on its resolution.”
Dunn was fiercely critical of council's handling of the Oaklawn project, even though he eventually voted in favor of the rezoning. In the ensuing weeks, he proposed council set limits and debate new policies on non-disclosure agreements and closed executive session.