A group led by the former president of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce has been granted the lease to the 163-acre Veterans Hospital campus in Knoxville. The V-A Hospital in Knoxville closed in December of 2009.
The federal government has awarded the lease for the property to the “Knoxville Veterans Growth Alliance.” David Huffman is with the Veterans Administration’s Central Iowa Health Care System.
“The only operation we have at that campus right now is a community-based outpatient clinic and so the rest of the property is pretty much vacant,” Huffman says. “We have plans to move the outpatient clinic out in the community to another location.” Huffman isn’t sure how this new group plans to use the 39 buildings in the Knoxville V-A complex.
“The successful bidders did spell out some of their ideas within the proposal, but not to an extremely detailed level,” Huffman says. The “Knoxville Veterans Growth Alliance” is a for-profit group. A non-profit group had competed for the lease, too, hoping to convert the facility into the “Veterans National Recovery Center” to serve homeless veterans. The V-A’s Huffman says the for-profit group that won the lease suggested the site could be used for manufacturing, for educational purposes — and for housing.
“One of the functions that the successful bidder would have to provide is housing for homeless veterans and so that’s always been a requirement of whoever was awarded the lease,” Huffman says. “But, aside from that, it’s been pretty much open to other ideas for development.” Knoxville is about 35 miles southeast of Des Moines.
A federal commission recommended in 2004 that the V-A Hospital in Knoxville be closed and Huffman says the last patients were moved out of the hospital five years later.