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Construction starts on senior housing facility at Dayton VA

A $9.7 million affordable housing project for low income senior citizens broke ground Friday at the Dayton VA Medical Center campus more than seven years after the 55-unit, three-story building was first planned.

Lyons Place II, named in memory of World War II Navy veteran, is due for completion in February 2015, said Tim Bete, St. Mary Development Corp. president and chief executive officer. The nonprofit housing agency in Dayton hopes to build two other identical buildings at the VA campus on West Third Street if it can find the funding, he said.

“It’s been a long time and taken a lot of different partners to get here,” Bete said at a groundbreaking ceremony Friday.

The building will have 49 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom apartments and meeting and dining rooms, a hair salon and a library, among other amenities. St. Mary has signed a 55-year enhanced use lease with the VA to construct the units.

“This has been talked about for years so to be breaking ground on it is a fantastic day,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

The idea for the affordable housing apartments for veterans at the Dayton VA first arose in 2006, and the most recent groundbreaking had been scheduled for September 2012 with completion in July 2014. St. Mary received a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant several years ago to build at the Dayton VA, but the plan was complicated by competing federal agencies rules.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, a long-time advocate for the project, said Friday “we discovered that there was a problem in the regulation as to how the VA and HUD worked together. One was HUD required that you have the land before they gave you the money, and the VA required that you have the money before they gave you the land.”

Turner, R-Dayton, worked to resolve that and other issues in Congress to pave the way for the long-anticipated project with a preference to provide housing for low income veterans at least age 62, officials said.

The first stumbling blocks, however, led St. Mary Development to use the original HUD grant to build a similar Lyons Place at 1300 Genesis Way off Hoover Avenue in Dayton.

This time, the project at the VA will be paid through $5.1 million in HUD funding, and $3.4 million in tax credits several banks invested in to finance construction. St. Mary Development and additional state and federal funding covers the remainder of the costs. Miller Valentine Group of Dayton is the prime construction contractor.

Lyons Place is named after John N. Lyons, a Dayton man who was a Navy cook during World War II, and was buried at the Dayton National Cemetery in 2000 on the grounds of the VA campus, Bete said.

The new project is a return to the Dayton VA’s history: The sprawling campus opened as a home for veterans after the end of the Civil War, officials noted.

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