On Tuesday, First District Commissioner Todd Boland asked his fellow commissioners to move forward finding buyers for a piece of property co-owned by the county and the city of Washington.

Ownership of the 29.2-acre property is a 60/40 split with the county owning the larger portion. The county owns 18.2 acres and Washington owns the remaining 11 acres.

Up until July both entities had agreed they would donate their portions of the land to the state of Missouri in an effort to lure the construction of a new veterans home to Washington.

The Missouri Veterans Commission (MVC) has hired a firm to conduct a yearlong Veterans Needs Feasibility Study to determine if a new veterans home is warranted or sustainable somewhere in the state.

The final presentation of the feasibility study is forecasted to be given to the MVC by mid-October 2019. 

One of the key components of the $127,000 study is to determine if a new home is needed and finding a location within 90 miles of the current St. Louis facility.

The property was donated to the city/county in May 2006 by developer Joe Vernaci as part of the original development agreement for the Phoenix Center II project.

Part of the agreement was the city/county could not sell the property for five years and if and when they did sell, Vernaci would be given first right to buy it back.

The commissioners will further discuss the property sale at their workshop meeting Thursday.

Sale

The county commission voted unanimously in July to have the property reappraised and then advertise for a real estate agent to market the property for sale. 

Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker said the cost for the appraisal and the realtor will be split between the county and Washington.

“It’s time to turn that property into liquid instead of just an asset,” Brinker said. “With this approval we will proceed accordingly.”

In September 2015, the value of the property was appraised at just under $2.2 million or $75,000 per acre. 

Brinker added there has been no new discussion about a veterans home in Washington in almost two years when both state budget constraints and bed limitations closed the window of possibility.

“We’ve marketed the property since then, but haven’t had any takers,” Brinker said. “The prospect of the veterans home and its impact on Washington and the county was very carefully and thoughtfully reviewed. We’ve had no indications that it is going to occur, so it’s in the best interest of the county to sell the property.”