Group pays $9.6 million for VA clinic site in Kernersville

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KERNERSVILLE, N.C. — A New York-based group has paid $9.26 million to buy the 39-acre site in Kernersville planned to serve as a health clinic for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Winston-Salem Healthcare Development LLC is listed as the buyer of the property, according to Forsyth County Register of Deeds data. The sale transaction took place Monday.

The seller, as expected, is Blue Diamond Investment Co. LLC. Its property was identified early in a process that began in 2010 because it is opposite Kernersville Medical Center. It has another 90 to 100 acres in the vicinity that also could be developed for health care purposes.

VA spokesman Bruce Sprecher has said it would take about 2½ years to build the 280,000-square-foot clinic. The site is north of Interstate 40 between Macy Grove Road and N.C. 66.

The agency projects the clinic having at least 500 employees when at full operation. Sprecher said jobs would begin to be posted about six months before the opening.

The buyer was formed July 25, according to the N.C. Secretary of State website. It is listed as based on the ninth floor of 200 Park Ave.

Kevin Davis, a managing member with Lend Lease Development Inc., is listed as the manager of Winston-Salem Healthcare Development. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

In May, the VA chose Lend Lease Healthcare Development LLC of Palm Beach, Fla., as contractor for the clinic. Lend Lease Healthcare is responsible for buying the land, building the center and leasing it to the VA for 20 years. The VA said it will pay an annual rent of $13 million.

The center will provide primary care, general and specialized mental health services, and a wide variety of other specialized services. It is projected to treat about 34,000 veterans a year.

Local health-care officials said the construction cost could be between $300 and $350 a square foot, which comes to $84 million to $98 million for the entire project. The parking lot of 1,914 spaces is expected to cost at least $20 million.

“This new facility will ensure that more of North Carolina’s veterans continue to have world-class medical care that they’ve earned through their service to our nation,” Daniel Hoffmann, the VA’s network director for its Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network, said in May.

The clinic is one of three being built in North Carolina, along with sites in Charlotte and Fayetteville. The VA said the Triad is home to more than 150,000 veterans, making it the largest concentration of any region in the state.

Lend Lease Healthcare officials have not said how they plan to hire subcontractors for the project. They have referred all comment to Sprecher, who could not be reached Thursday. Jeff Hatling, director of community development for Kernersville, has said permits have been approved to begin construction at the site.

The VA has been deliberate in proceeding with the clinic, including taking 10 months to conduct due diligence before choosing the site. That included performing a market appraisal and geotechnical and environmental studies.

Novant Health Inc. officials have said that having its Kernersville hospital and the VA clinic close together would benefit both facilities over the long term.

Independent of the VA’s site-selection process, plans already were under way to improve access to the Kernersville hospital site. The four-lane divided road that connects the hospital to Macy Grove Road is to be extended west to connect with N.C. 66 near the Interstate 40 interchange there.

The Meridian Realty Group represented Blue Diamond in the transaction.

“After a while, you have so much blood, sweat and tears invested in these complex transactions that you stop thinking about the time it takes and focus on not letting them fall through,” said Mark Fulk, Meridian’s president.

“You also never lose sight of the benefit these significant development deals bring to the communities they serve.”

Ray Collins, president of Collins Commercial Properties Inc., said the selection of a contractor already increased “market interest and site procurement of retailers, restaurants and ancillary medical office users looking to locate in close proximity.

“Additionally, anticipated increases in interest rates in future years, coupled with pent-up demand inherent in a recovering economy, act as stimulus for those developers and end users that are well capitalized and can afford to be active in the market now.”

Credit: Winston-Salem Journal

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