The VA’s Ambitious Construction Program

The Las Vegas VA Medical Center opened its doors in August of this year. (photo: Marc Sanchez)

As we alluded to in a yesterday’s post, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is in the midst of an ambitious program to build new veterans hospitals, clinics and outpatient centers throughout the nation. This past August, it opened its first new medical center in 17 years:  the Las Vegas Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). When fully completed, the $600 million, 151-acre, 1.3 million-square-foot facility will feature 90 inpatient beds, a 120-bed community living center (a skilled nursing home care facility) scheduled to open in early 2013 and an ambulatory care center. Portions of the parking areas will have overhead solar panels designed to help power the campus.

Other VAMC hospital campuses now under construction include the $665 million, 1.2 million-square-foot Orlando VAMC , which is being built on a 65-acre campus in southeast Orange County, Fla. The center will feature 134 inpatient beds, 120 community living center beds, a 60-bed domiciliary, a large multispecialty outpatient clinic and administrative and support services. It will be collocated with the University of Central Florida College of Medicine as well as several other medical facilities in the Lake Nona area known as Medical City.

Also currently underway is the $995 million, 200-bed Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care Center (SLVHC), a hurricane-proof facility that will replace the VA hospital destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. It has been designed “upside down,” with all mission-critical services—including the kitchen, emergency room, and access points for utilities—located at least 20 feet above base flood elevation, and it will be able to self sustain, independently of the city’s infrastructure, for at least seven days with up to 1,000 occupants. The center is under construction in a biomedical district currently being developed in downtown New Orleans; its administration building (the renovated former Pan-American Life Insurance Building) is scheduled to open in spring 2014, while construction of the rest of the hospital is expected to take another two years.

In addition, the VA has contracted with private developers to build many community clinics. In Tampa, for example, the VA signed contracts last year for the construction of two clinics. On February 14, it awarded a contract to Indianapolis-based Duke Realty to build a two-story, 106,000-square-foot primary care clinic at Hidden River Corporate Park; when it is completed in 2014, the VA will rent the space from Duke. Four months later, the VA selected University Corporate Park of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to build a 22,300-square-foot, single-story mental health clinic at 10770 North 46th Street. The VA will pay annual rent of nearly $600,000 under a ten-year contract when the project is completed next summer.

Other clinic construction projects now underway for the VA include the following, all of which are scheduled to be completed in spring 2014:

  • A 60,000-square-foot, two-story clinic in Gilbert, Ariz., that will provide both primary and specialty care services. McShane Development Company, LLC, of Rosemont, Ill., is building the facility, which the VA will lease for a 20-year term and pay annual rent of $1.95 million.
  • A 168,000-square-foot, three-story health care center in Butler, Pa., that will provide primary care, specialty care, dental, diagnostic, laboratory, mental health and other services. The VA will pay Westar Development Company of Aurora, Ohio, annual rent of $6.2 million under a 20-year contract.
  • The 96,000-square-foot, two-story Grand Rapids Outpatient Clinic in Wyoming, Mich., which will provide primary and specialty care, mental health, radiology and pharmacy services. The VA will pay US Federal Properties Co. of Kansas City, Mo., annual rent of $4.1 million for 20 years.
  • A 52,141-square-foot, one-story community-based outpatient clinic in Billings, Mont., that will provide primary and specialty care, mental health and other services, as well as space for Veterans Benefits Administration offices. The VA will pay Billings VA 2008 LLC annual rent of approximately $1.8 million.