The proposed Veterans Village of Citrus County that will provide affordable, assisted-living apartments to as many as 300 area veterans took another step this week to coming to fruition after the Citrus County Hospital Board made good on its promise to donate $2.5 million toward the $10.2 million project.

During its regularly scheduled meeting, the hospital board trustees and Veterans Village representatives signed a memorandum of understanding in which the hospital board agrees to help fund the assisted-living facility project and stipulates the requirements of the Veterans Village in exchange for the funding.

Two of the three Veterans Village executive board members, Dr. William Dixon and Dr. Paresh Desai, signed the memorandum of understanding. Desai is a urologist and also a hotelier and restaurateur.

The first phase of the assisted-living facility includes 100 apartments and will offer military veterans apartments at rates lower than market prices.

Dixon previously told the board that the $2.5 million grant will be enough to qualify the project for federal loan programs. In addition, Dixon said he hopes to collect an additional $1 million through state grants, which would reduce the amount the project would need to borrow, with lower interest rates.

The facility is slated to be built adjacent to the U.S. Veterans Affairs Lecanto Clinic on West Marc Knighton Court off County Road 491.

As for the stipulations, they include:

• The project will have to be constructed on the proposed location.

• It must be at least a 100-bed assisted living facility. It can expand in the future.

• When the project is complete it must employ a full-time director of veterans affairs.

• The Veterans Village will establish an admissions committee before accepting applications and at least 90 days before hand, Veterans Village must submit to the hospital board for approval the admissions criteria.

• The assisted-living facility may subsidize the cost of housing for indigent veterans, their spouses or surviving spouses. If that’s the case, the Veterans Village must submit to the hospital board prior to accepting applications, a subsidization plan for hospital board approval.

• The hospital board has sole and exclusive naming rights of the project and the Veterans Village will include that name in all of its marketing materials and signs.

• The Veterans Village must also show the hospital board proof of any additional funds and loans from a bank or lender for the project.

• The Veterans Village will be required to maintain public records that ordinarily the hospital board would be required to maintain. The Veterans Village will also have to make those records available in the same way as the hospital board is required.

Dixon previously told the hospital board that the average cost for assisted-living facilities in the area was $3,500 per month. The proposed Veterans Village would offer small apartments for veterans and their spouse for $2,054 per month. The cost for veterans alone would be $1,732 per month.

If the veteran dies, Dixon said their spouse would be allowed to stay and be financially helped to pay expenses. The facility will employ about 30 people.

In other business, the hospital board:

• Agreed to decline an offer by Scott Adams to purchase two lots the hospital board is looking to sell. The two adjacent lots combined are 5.4 acres. The two vacant lots are not part of the lease with HCA.

The two lots are bordered by State Road 44 to the north, Northeast 12th Avenue to the east and Northeast 11th Avenue to the west.

Adams, a former Citrus County commissioner, offered the hospital board $150,000 for the combined two lots. The hospital board originally was asking $250,000 per lot. The lots have been for sale for several months.

Hospital board attorney Bill Grant stepped aside when the hospital board discussed the issue.

He emailed and told the board he had provided counsel to Adams in the past and considers him “an associate.” Attorney Cliff Sheppard reviewed the offer with the hospital board in place of Bill Grant.

Contact Chronicle reporter Fred Hiers at fred.hiers@chronicleonline.com or 352-397-5914.

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