State Selects SLC For 7th Veterans' Nursing Home

Tradition in St. Lucie County will be the site of Florida's seventh veterans' nursing home.
St. Lucie County has officially been awarded the site of the state’s next Veterans’ Nursing Home. Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet unanimously approved today the recommendation by the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) to build the state’s seventh veterans’ nursing home on a 28.5-acre site in the Tradition community of Port St. Lucie. The 120-bed facility will employ roughly 190 people.

“I am extremely proud and thankful for all of the community support for this project from the various veterans groups to the other municipalities throughout the Treasure Coast.  I can’t say enough about the tremendous cooperation that the county received from the City Council and staff of the City of Port St. Lucie to our legislative delegation including Sen. Negron, Rep. Lee, Rep. Harrell and U.S. Rep. Murphy. Everyone offered and provided whatever assistance they could to make sure that the state’s next veterans nursing home was going to be built in St. Lucie County,” said St. Lucie County Commission Chair Frannie Hutchinson. “This project provides a wonderful opportunity for economic development - in terms of temporary construction jobs, as well as permanent health care employment, but there is also the future possibility of other health-care related opportunities that will come along with a facility of this size. But most importantly, it provides a place for our older veterans to retire to without having to leave the Treasure Coast.”

The state is providing funding up to $17 million, which will be matched with federal dollars, to construct the new veterans’ nursing home. The estimated $40-$50 million construction project along with the annual budget of more than $7 million in operations will provide an enormous economic benefit to the region. The 75-mile service area for the Treasure Coast currently houses an estimated 279,971 veterans; 145,242 of whom are over age 65. The closest existing state veterans’ nursing homes are more than two hours away in all directions.

In February, FDVA notified St. Lucie County that a preliminary report ranked the County fourth out of five regions in Florida in terms of need for a State-run facility for veterans requiring long-term health care. Six counties submitted applications, including St. Lucie County’s selection of a large parcel in Port St. Lucie that Tradition Land Co. agreed to donate. Following a rigorous application process that included site visits from FDVA’s Site Selection Committee, St. Lucie County’s proposal moved to No. 1 and was recommended for approval to the Cabinet by FDVA Executive Director Col. Mike Prendergast.

FDVA praised St. Lucie County’s site for its close proximity to all required amenities and services that nursing home residents and employees would need. These include a state-of-the-art hospital, fire-rescue station, hotels, commercial businesses, affordable housing for staff, and easy access to Interstate 95. The site on the south side of S.W. Tradition Parkway, across from the Brennity at Tradition retirement community, also has all required utilities.  FDVA staff also preferred the site because it is surrounded by conservation areas that will provide a peaceful setting for the nursing home and because it will fill a 250-mile gap in the network of State Veterans’ Nursing Homes.

Cities, counties, political leaders and veterans from throughout the Treasure Coast region came together in this effort. Thousands of residents signed petitions to show their support. St. Lucie County and Port St. Lucie City leaders and staff members expedited approval of the required site rezoning and transfer of the property from private to public hands by the application deadline date in May. The county committed matching funds as required by the State.

A large contingent from the Treasure Coast appeared at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, including state Sen. Joe Negron, state Reps. Gayle Harrell and Larry Lee, all five St. Lucie County commissioners, interim St. Lucie County Administrator/County Attorney Daniel McIntyre, Port St. Lucie Assistant City Manager Daniel Holbrook, and veterans representatives from throughout the region.

St. Lucie County and the City of Port St. Lucie are planning to host a community event at Tradition Town Hall within the next few weeks to say thank you to all of those involved in making this proposal a reality.
 

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