10/10/2019 10:00:00 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
St. Paul, Minn. – The architectural designs are nearing completion, and the Federal funding application has been submitted. Additional details have been provided to decision makers.
Officials from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs visited Preston on Wednesday to provide an update to City leaders and stakeholders on the status of the /mdva/homes/futurehomes/index.jspproposed Minnesota Veterans Home in Preston. The proposed location is a 15-acre bluff-top site surrounded by a 200-year-old native white oak forest.
In 2018, the Minnesota Legislature allocated $10.2 million toward the cost of the project which will be funded by a combination of federal-granted (65 percent), state-bonded and pending community-provided monies (35 percent). In March of this year, MDVA submitted an application for Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; that funding will not be confirmed until early 2020.
While Federal funds are not guaranteed, there is continued optimism among the planning team. “The process is on track,” said MDVA Commissioner Larry Herke. “We look forward to approval of our Federal funding request and breaking ground on this new Veterans Home next year.” If funding is approved in early 2020, the project’s tentative timeline includes construction beginning in mid-2020 and the new home opening in early 2022.
The Preston Home’s design includes 54 residential units with private baths split into three, 18-resident “households” avoiding long institutional-feeling hallways. The floor plan is laid out to take advantage of the views of the surrounding countryside from the bluff-top setting. Public spaces include a Town Center featuring a small coffee shop/cafe, theater/meeting room, family dining room, meditation room/chapel, and club room.
While the funding process is moving along, there have been some adjustments in the final design. Increasing construction and labor costs necessitated selecting more economical materials for roofing and countertops and the elimination of some features including three season porches, a transfer garage and a maintenance building.
The meeting also included discussion of the access road to the new Veterans Home property. Originally, MDVA planned to add a new road at the northwest end of the property from Highway 16 and Golfview Drive, but that was eliminated in the budget reductions. An alternative is to use the existing road for access; however, that road will require upgrades in the near future to accommodate the temporary construction traffic.
In the meantime, City staff and Community and Economic Development Associates member Cathy Enerson have been working to support the addition of a new Veterans Home in the city. MDVA will be hiring up to 130 full and part-time employees to work at the new home. To attract these employees to the Preston area, Enerson has spearheaded efforts to add 167 housing units to the area by 2030, enhanced the City’s website with information and videos highlighting Preston’s quality of life, and planning job fairs and researching child care options. “We know you will need support,” Enerson told Commissioner Herke. “We are working to make this new facility a success.”
For more information, visit the /mdva/homes/futurehomes/index.jspMDVA website's Future Homes page.
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) is a cabinet-level state agency dedicated to serving Minnesota Veterans and their families. In addition to overseeing the five State Veterans Homes, MDVA helps eligible Veterans and families secure state and federal benefits and provides programs and services relating to higher education, benefits, burial, claims, outreach and Veterans employment. Veterans and their families are encouraged to visit www.MinnesotaVeteran.org or call 1-(888)-LinkVet for more information about benefits.