ST. LOUIS — St. Louis has a new billion-dollar project.
The long-awaited expansion of the Veterans Affairs hospital in the city of St. Louis, John Cochran V.A. Medical Center, could start construction as soon as 2024, said Gary Drikow, the service chief of major projects for V.A. St. Louis. At a cost of more than $1 billion, the project would rank with the new $1.7 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency campus as one of the largest-ever federal infrastructure investments in the St. Louis region.
As planned — but still pending final congressional approval — the V.A. hospital in Grand Center, originally constructed more than 50 years ago, would be completely rebuilt at its existing 11-acre campus at 915 N. Grand Blvd., expanding its footprint into nearby blocks bordering Delmar Boulevard, Drikow said. The project would see construction of 700,000 square feet of space, centered around a new 9-story hospital tower that would replace existing facilities and give all patients private rooms.
Since the hospital is a multi-state Midwestern hub for spinal cord injuries, the renovation would add a new 30-bed specialized spinal cord injury unit, along with a new emergency department, intensive care unit and pharmacy. The massive project would also require a new central utility plant. Construction of one parking garage is already underway, and two more garages would be built as part of the expansion.
Plans to expand the city’s V.A. center date as far back as 2007. In the interim, plans from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have received preliminary congressional approval, along with funding for design and property acquisition.
More than a decade later, the project has risen near the top of the V.A.’s priority list for construction projects, said Drikow. The last time the hospital was renovated was in the 1980s, but that project was on a much smaller scale.
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