Fort Howard developer chosen
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 12:52

Fort Howard’s stately buildings have fallen into a state of disrepair over the years while waiting for the attractive waterfront site’s fate to be determined.    file photo

Continuing care community to be centerpiece 

by Tad Wayne Taborn

Another chapter has been written in the continuing effort to decide the fate of Fort Howard.
    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has selected Fort Howard Development, LLC, based in Brinklow, to develop a continuing care retirement community at the Fort Howard VA campus, according to a recent VA press release.
    In a recent interview, Troy Hagger, a portfolio manager at the VA, described the process of selecting among the submitted requests for proposals (RFPs). The closing date for submissions was Aug. 16.
    “Fort Howard Development, LLC provided a proposal that met our initial requirements and that was above all other proposals,” Hagger said.
    The VA’s requirements included residential and amenity provisions for the continuing care retirement community. These provisions will include assisted living and recreational activities.
    The VA also required that those submitting proposals concern themselves with maintaining the historical context of the facility, and Fort Howard Development’s “proposal also scored high in that area,” Hagger said.
    The development is to be accomplished under an enhanced-use lease that, as stated in the press release, “envisions the development of a continuing care retirement community that will provide discounts and priority placements for veterans and their spouses.”
    Fort Howard Development “will be responsible for financing, designing, building, managing and maintaining a continuing care retirement community for aging veterans and veterans requiring assistance with daily living,” according to the press release.
    The official award notice was issued on Nov.  19, and the next step, Hagger explained, is to produce a detailed development plan. The development plan has to be approved by VA before a lease can be executed.
    “They will be able to lease all the 94 acres minus 10 acres that will be set aside for a possible state nursing home,” Hagger said.
    The nursing home will be available “to anyone,” Hagger said. A plan providing further details on financing, building concept and amenities to be included for the veterans is expected to be submitted within the required 90-day time frame.
    “[Fort Howard Development] should be able to provide some financing commitment – who’s going to finance this project. [The plan] should provide conceptual drawings and information on the program itself – the residential and nonresidential  parts – details on what they will provide for the residents,” Hagger said.
    The details of the lease are yet to be worked out, Hagger explained, but “it will be an enhanced-use lease up to 75 years.”
    “The development plan is the next crucial step. The developer will get started on that immediately. That’s the critical point right now, getting an acceptable development plan,” Hagger said.
    The previous developer  of the Fort Howard VA campus, Federal Development, LLC, held a lease that was terminated in 2009 after a protracted lack of progress on the project.
    Federal Development was responsible for developing a previously proposed senior living facility that was advertised as “veterans preference.”
    Federal Development collected deposits from interested local buyers; since the lease was terminated, most have received no refund.