Veterans Affairs seeks developer to finance, build and run massive housing project

The agency would lease the land for free on the West LA medical center campus

The Department of Veterans Affairs is looking for a developer to build hundreds and possibly more than 1,000 units of housing at its medical center in West Los Angeles campus, a massive project that comes amid severe turbulence at the federal agency.

The DVA said it will lease the land to the principal developer for 75 years free of charge, at the north side of its West Los Angeles VA Medical Center campus. The project is part of the massive government agency’s redevelopment master plan, according to KPCC, which first reported the story.

The developer would “finance, design, construct, renovate, operate, and maintain” the new housing units, and related services, according to the DVA.

The first project is the renovation of the 51,000-square-foot Building 207 for housing homeless and at risk homeless veterans. The campus is located between Brentwood and Westwood, near Interstate 405.

As part of its announcement, the agency did not specify the precise number of units it was seeking or the exact acreage of the to be leased. In 2015, then then DVA Secretary Bob McDonald promised to build around 1,200 units of supportive housing for veterans on the campus. There’s been little movement on the project since, and it appears the agency is now seeking help from the private sector.

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“Generally, principal developers can get work done faster than the federal government could and also more efficiently,” the medical center’s Heidi Marston told KPCC.

The DVA will present its plan and take comments at a public meeting on April 26. The Draft Master Plan, which guides the overall redevelopment of the campus, has been in place since September 2016.

The DVA, which has long accused of being chronically mismanaged and poorly performing, had a leadership shakeup at the top last week. President Trump fired VA Secretary David Shulkin and has nominated Ronny Jackson, the White House doctor.

The need for more veterans housing in L.A. is pressing. There were about 4,800 homeless veterans in L.A. County as of November, a 57 percent increase from the year before, according to the Los Angeles Times. [KPCC] — Dennis Lynch