Beckley Common Council hears update on construction plans for veterans nursing facility

By Autumn Shelton, RealWV

BECKLEY, W.Va. – Plans for construction of the 120-bed Charles Calvin Rogers State Veterans Nursing Facility are still in progress, but a land swap with the city of Beckley may be needed before the facility is actually built. 

During a workshop meeting of the Beckley Common Council on Tuesday, Sam Rich, an engineer with The Thrasher Group, provided an update on facility construction and explained the reason for the proposed land swap.  

“When this project . . . had its inception several years ago, the VA was gifted this land that they own by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture,” Rich explained. “There was not really, at that time, any thought to what size facility was going to be needed, how it was going to be designed, or the size of the property that was really needed. It was just, we’re gonna build this in Beckley, here’s the property that we already own, and the transfer was made.” 

Rich stated that by the end of 2023, Thrasher was hired, along with SFCS Architects, to work on design plans and look at the VA site, which is located near the Jackie Withrow Hospital along South Eisenhower Drive. 

“What became kind of abundantly clear very early on in that process, was that to build the size facility that they needed with the amount of land that they had, the earthwork was going to be tremendous.” 

The facility is proposed to be a 150,000 sq. ft state-of-the-art building, Rich stated. The project cost is already estimated to be over $60 million. 

Rich said that from an expense standpoint, including utility extensions and construction of a facility access road between the Dr. Pepper/Snapple facility and the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department, the project would be cost prohibitive for the VA. 

“It became evident that this was not going to be achievable without significantly more funding that just, quite frankly, was going to be very difficult for [the VA] to find,” Rich said.

For those reasons, a 21.7 acre parcel owned by the city of Beckley was considered.

“What we started to look at was the Pinecrest Business Park parcel that is located much closer in proximity to the Dr. Pepper plant and the sheriff’s office,” Rich said, adding the topography there would be much easier to develop. 

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new veterans nursing facility was held on Oct. 23, 2023.

The VA would then transfer 10.8 acres back to the city of Beckley, Rich continued. 

“There are developable acres in that property, just not for a facility of this size,” Rich said of the current VA property, adding that it is good for smaller buildings about 8,000-10,000 sq. ft. or less. 

“I attended a meeting with the Development Authority and Jina Belcher, where we met with Mountaineer Gas and looked at this property where we are trying to put the Veterans Home, and the initial reaction is there is just too much work to be done for this to be feasible for us from a cost standpoint,” Rich said, noting that the new property would also have a better aesthetic for veterans living in the facility. 

“I love it,” said Council Member Tom Sopher. “With a nursing home facility that looks like a residential area, the patients feel much more comfortable in a setting like that where they can sit outside and sit bird feeders out, and there’s areas where they can be entertained outside.” 

After additional discussion, Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold said that this issue would be placed on an upcoming council agenda for further consideration. 

A groundbreaking ceremony for the veterans nursing facility was held in Beckley on Oct. 23, 2023. 

“This is a truly special day for West Virginia and for our veterans, especially our veterans in Southern West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said during the groundbreaking. “This facility is going to be one of the best in the country, and it should be, because that’s what our veterans deserve. It’s especially meaningful because we get to honor General Charles Calvin Rogers, who is a true American military hero and one of our own.”

Construction of the facility will be financed through a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs grant as well as state funding. 


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