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Victory Park will have apartments, four-plex homes for seniors, veterans
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Victory Park will have apartments, four-plex homes for seniors, veterans

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Veterans Affairs Grounds, Lincoln

The Seniors Foundation hopes to redevelop the Veterans Affairs campus at 600 S. 70th St.

Victory Park is the name of the new complex planned for the Veterans Affairs Campus at 70th and O streets, the new complex that no one can talk about publicly.

And the Victory Park plans include a mix of senior housing -- apartments and four-plexes -- plus medical offices and a renovated VA hospital built around the open parade grounds at the VA campus, based on documents from the city available through an open records request.

The documents include a “comprehensive development plan” dated June 2014 that lays out the specifics for the new buildings and the hospital renovation.

The Seniors Foundation began specific negotiations with Veterans Affairs a year ago using this plan. There is no information about what has happened since then.

In fact, everything about the VA Center redevelopment plan has been very hush-hush.

The last official public word on the project was in 2011, when Veterans Affairs agreed to negotiate with the Seniors Foundation on a renovation project that would include a long-term lease for the 59-acre campus.

Since then there has been a long silence. 

But last week's decision by the county-city Planning Commission to “blight” the 59-acre VA Campus is a public acknowledgement that the project is moving forward and that it will be getting some help from the city. Blighting is the first step in accessing Tax Increment Financing to help with financing.

No one involved would talk about any details last week. The Seniors Foundation director and a VA spokesman did say that there would be no information on the contract until this fall.

But there’s a good chance many of these specifics from this 2014 plan will be part of that agreement.

Here are some of the details from that document:

* The new buildings, including several kinds of housing, would be built around the historic parade ground, which will be maintained as open space.

* Sixty units of single-story, four-plex housing for residents age 55 and older would be located south of the hospital, behind several existing buildings along the current circular drive. 

* Seventy units of permanent supportive housing for veterans with what are called VASH vouchers would be located east of the hospital. Services such as job training, life skills and addiction counseling would be provided.

* Sixty units of market-rate apartments in a single three-story building would be located directly north of the VASH housing. Veterans and seniors would get preference in renting.

* A renovated hospital would include more than 100 housing units and office space for Aging Partners and the Seniors Foundation.

The plan suggests that the city’s Aging Partners would operate a senior center in the hospital, and Aging Partners and the VA would operate a variety of programs from the hospital, such as counseling, exercise and Internet access and training.

The plans include two two-story medical office buildings, with 80,000 square feet of space and parking for 400 cars, in the southwest corner of campus, directly east of CHI Health St. Elizabeth.

The Victory Park plan does not include a new VA clinic, but a space has been set aside on the northwest corner of the campus for that. 

The Victory Park documents also listed key players in the redevelopment project. They are the Seniors Foundation, the Lincoln nonprofit negotiating with the VA; Lincoln-based Sampson Construction; America First, an Omaha-based real estate group; Leo Daly, an architectural firm; Olsson Associates, an engineering and design company; and Kent Seacrest, a Lincoln development attorney.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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