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Monday, December 19, 2016

VA Homes Update: Potential Closing Timeframe Established

The entrance of the VA 
As previously reported, the VA Homes project is making real progress these days, and Fort Thomas City residents can expect to start seeing that progress in terms of improvement to the structures as early as this spring.

"At the last meeting the mayor was authorized to sign a new MOA and I'm happy to report that not only did the mayor sign it but it was returned from the VA so we actually have a signed document from both parties, which formally executes MOA between the two parties," City Administrator Ron Dill said at November's City Council meeting.

Dill then went into a bit of history.

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"Throughout the course of this summer, we had maintained contact with the VA, in hopes of gaining that document in the form that it is," Dill said. "And previously reported at Council that there was always the threshold issue that involved the abatement remediation prior to the transfer. We also reported the thought on their end that there was a potential that we could get to this point that we could make the transfer prior to the environmental clean-up taking place. So when we received word from that we started working with our developer in June asking them to start the process of due diligence on their end."

Dill said they've previously stated that they felt the developer was a willing and good partner, and they still feel that way. Council acted to extend their contract for 180 days with the intention that they would continue their due diligence in terms of costing and preparation for the project. "They've done that and we're very pleased with their effort," Dill said.

In the meantime individual meetings have been initiated with all the involved utility companies, include Duke Energy, Northern Kentucky Water District and Sanitation District No. 1 of Northern Kentucky to discuss the homes' infrastructures and the costs associated with upgrades as most of the current systems in the homes are antiquated.

"In the case of the sewer and the water line it will require some type of replacement, not only within the project but in some instances outside of the project area," Dill said. Preliminary costs have been received, which Dill said is critical to the project. Obtaining a developer agreement is in the works, in order to keep the project moving forward.

Currently the developer needs estimates for the environmental clean-up, and at November's Council meeting Dill said these estimates would be submitted to the VA within a week.

"We've teleconferenced with VA officials, they've transferred it to their person who will conduct the closing," Dill said. "We've discussed terms and timing of that, without being too specific because we can't really get to that point until the review takes place. But it appears that we're working toward a closing date in the early part of next year, potentially by the end of January or sometime in February if everything goes well."

In the meantime city officials have continued to have discussions internally, and have begun the process of developing a contract with their contractor developer.

"Ironically enough, for about 13 years we've tried to get this property, it appears that we're on the precipice of obtaining it and now we have the fire drill of trying to pull it altogether and create an actual working contract with the developer," Dill said. "So that's the challenge in front of us."

Dill went on to say that the first step is environmental. Once an agreement is in place and the appropriate transfers have occurred, Dill said it's possible the environmental clean-up, which they expect to take 15 weeks, could take place immediately. That means the rehabilitation of the actual structures could start happening late spring

"I hope we have measurable progress each month," Dill said.

City Councilmember Ken Bowman asked if, after the transfer is complete and the environmental clean-up is done, there will be a schedule of improvements between the City and the developer. Dill said that will be part of the contract, and it's something they're working on.

"I'm excited about it," said Mayor Eric Haas at the November meeting. "It's been going well."

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