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Jacksonville to gain residential VA center but lose two Southside clinics

VA Construction Photo.JPG
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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Construction PDF
The site of the new VA facility is in the northern outreaches of Jacksonville, near UF Health North and Jacksonville International Airport.

Construction of a new U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility began Wednesday in Jacksonville, promising veterans the first residential treatment center in the county.

The center will eliminate long travel times for some veterans who would need to travel to Lake City or Gainesville for similar care, although it could increase local commute times for more routine care.

The $64.2 million project is estimated to be completed in early 2024, culminating in a 173,200-square-foot outpatient clinic, connected to a 10,000-plus-square-foot residential facility to treat and house up to 30 veterans suffering from homelessness, addiction and mental illness.

The facility will be at 145 Heron Bay Road, near UF Health North and Jacksonville International Airport, at the northern outskirts of the city.

A release from the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, which will oversee the facility and currently runs three outpatient clinics in Jacksonville, says the new center will replace two of those clinics that currently operate on Jacksonville's Southside.

Jacksonville 2 VA Clinic at 3901 University Blvd S. in the Memorial Health Plaza and Jacksonville VA Southpoint at 6900 Southpoint Drive N. will have their outpatient services taken over by the new center once it opens.

The clinics are 17 and 20 miles from the facility they're being replaced by, respectively.

NF/SGVHS did not answer a WJCT News inquiry about whether those facilities would transition to providing other VA services, whether they would be demolished or sold, and whether access to VA services for residents on Jacksonville's Southside would be affected.

Jacksonville 1 VA Clinic, in Springfield near UF Health Jacksonville at 1536 N Jefferson St., will remain open.

Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or Rtroncoso@wjct.org and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.