MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) – The plan to build a new state-of-the-art, extended care facility for Alabama veterans that began as a vision just three years ago is close to becoming a reality with the completion of the home's design.
"Phase two, which is our next step, will be to break ground and start the construction phase of the home," said Clyde Marsh, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs. "The design of the home is a revolutionary concept that will offer veterans the comforts of home."
The home will have 254 private rooms and will include 174 skilled-care beds and 80 domiciliary/assisted living units all integrated into residential neighborhoods. Each neighborhood will have two to three houses with 12 to 14 private rooms, personal bathrooms, living and dining areas with a complete kitchen for serving meals. The home will also feature a town center with a "Hall of Honor" dedicated to the men and women who have served our great nation.
For over a year, the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs has met with the William Blackstock Architect firm of Birmingham to work out every detail of home's design. Marsh said the driving force behind the new design concept was to get away from the institutionalized design that has been offered in the past.
The veterans home will be built in Pell City adjacent to the Jefferson State campus and across the new St. Vincent's/St. Clair Hospital. In 2008, the St. Clair County Economic and Development Council deeded 27-acres to the state VA for the new home.
The veterans home is approved for funding by way of a Federal VA Construction Grant, which the federal VA funds 65% of the construction cost with 35% of the cost covered by state matching funds. The total project is estimated at $50 million of which the state has committed matching funds of $17.7 million.
Congress appropriated $100 million for state veterans home construction projects in 2010, which fell short of covering the construction of Alabama's fourth home.
"We can go out for bid as soon as we have the $32 million federal budget approval," said Marsh. "The home ranked 50th out of 157 projects, but unfortunately there were only enough funds this fiscal year to cover the top 38 projects."
Marsh said he expects the new veterans home will get the required VA federal funds in the FY 2011 budget cycle, which will be the state VA's next window of opportunity.