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Veterans Administration considering site near airport for new Charlotte medical complex

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is considering a site near Tyvola Road and Billy Graham Parkway for a proposed 295,000-square-foot medical complex that would be the VA’s second location in Charlotte.

The new health center, which has been in the planning stages since 2009, may be built on a 35-acre parcel on the northeast corner of West Tyvola and Cascade Pointe Boulevard, according to Bruce Sprecher, director of communications for the VA’s Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network.

“It’s not definite yet,” said Carol Waters, public affairs officer at the VA Medical Center in Salisbury. “No award has been made yet.”

Sprecher said the VA identified the site as one that would be appropriate for the medical complex. Now the VA is reviewing bids from contractors who would agree to purchase the site, build the complex and lease it back to the VA for about $14 million annually over the next 20 years.

The VA anticipates awarding the project this summer and has projected opening in 2015. Sprecher estimated the complex will cost between $100 million and $200 million to build.

For now, Sprecher said the VA has “put a hold on a piece of property that we think is going to work.” This came after going through a competitive process.

The new medical center in Charlotte is one of three proposed projects – the others are in Kernersville and Fayetteville – that would provide outpatient medical and surgical services and mental health programs to meet the needs of the growing veteran population, Sprecher said.

The VA currently operates a smaller, 55,000-square-foot outpatient clinic at 8601 University East Drive, in east Charlotte. The closest VA hospital is in Salisbury.

More than 140,000 veterans live in the Charlotte metropolitan area, about 60,000 in Mecklenburg County alone, according to Howard Blackwelder, past president of the Charlotte Metro Area Blind Veterans Association.

Blackwelder said he hasn’t heard much about the proposed medical center in recent years. “The last time I checked on it, they had already approved the money to have it built ... but they had to hold it up because of the recession.”

Blackwelder gets his medicine and medical care at the outpatient center in east Charlotte. “We got more veterans there than they can handle.”

Garloch: 704-358-5078
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