VA picks team to devise plan for revitalizing West L.A. campus

Federal Department of Veterans Affairs has chosen team to devise plan for revitalizing West L.A. campus

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs has chosen a team to devise a master plan, due Oct. 16, for revitalizing the agency's West Los Angeles campus to best serve veterans in need of housing, health care and other aid.

“We will transform the West L.A. VA campus into a vibrant community,” Vincent Kane, senior advisor on homelessness to VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald, said in a statement Thursday.

The master plan team will be composed of three firms that will work with residents, veterans service organizations, elected officials and nonprofit groups to tackle the job of determining how best to use and refurbish the 387-acre campus. The VA has long been criticized for inadequately maintaining the campus with its many historic buildings, even as more than 4,300 veterans, at last count, sleep on the streets of Los Angeles County.

In January, the VA agreed to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of chronically homeless veterans. The agency agreed to transform the sprawling campus into a center of permanent housing and to curtail the controversial practice of leasing VA facilities to corporations and other nongovernment entities.

Local and federal officials have committed to ending veterans' homelessness in the county by the end of the year. Last week, the West L.A. campus opened Building 209, a structure with supportive housing for chronically homeless veterans with medical and mental health needs.

The team charged with developing the master plan includes three firms:

-- HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm with 60 years of experience and 25 offices worldwide, including in Culver City. The firm's Cedars-Sinai advanced health sciences pavilion won a 2013 design award from the American Institute of Architects California Council. It was also involved in a recent project at VA Long Beach Healthcare System.

-- Walsh Group, based in Chicago, is a construction firm that has worked for more than two decades on VA projects and is now completing a major medical development for the VA Loma Linda Healthcare Center.

-- Core Cos., based in San Jose, designs and develops below-market-rate residential properties through partnerships with public agencies, nonprofit groups and private financial institutions. In December, Core plans to complete construction of a 60-unit affordable housing project to serve homeless veterans at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System's Menlo Park Division.

The VA said it would solicit feedback over the next three months from a variety of organizations and individuals. The master plan, it said, would reflect the intent to use the campus for permanent supportive housing, particularly for chronically homeless, severely disabled, female and aging veterans. The mission also includes planning for transitional housing with short-term treatment services.

“I applaud West L.A VA’s efforts to return its primary focus to housing and serving veterans,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance). “No one who has fought for their country at home and abroad should have to fight for a roof over their head or the medical care they deserve.”

Twitter: @MarthaGroves

martha.groves@latimes.com

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

3:01 a.m.: This post has been updated with a comment from U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance).

This story was originally posted at 11:51 a.m.

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