In mid-March — after three long years — the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Tavares held their grand opening with the symbolic red ribbon being cut by Congressman Dan Webster.
Charlie Brenner, CCIM, and Rick Gonzalez, CCIM tirelessly worked with the VA and property owners for two years to find the right location for the facility. Brenner and Gonzalez are both heavily involved with Central Florida Veterans and understand how important it is for them to be able to get health care close to home, the two explain.
Certified Commercial Investment Members work together, are persistent, and know their markets. This fact was once on display March 11, 2016 as Congressman Dan Webster cut the red ribbon symbolizing the official grand opening Veteran’s Administration Outpatient Clinic, Brenner shared.
Afterwards, Gonzalez broke down the deal and offered unique insight into how the two CCIMs were able to turn the transaction from a non-starter to an opened community clinic for north Lake County and other area veterans:
- In January 2013, Charlie Brenner, CCIM, of C. Brenner, Inc. in Winter Park, reached out to Richard X. (Rick) Gonzalez, CCIM, ALC, of Crosby & Associates, Inc. in Tavares, to help find the perfect location a new clinic in Gonzalez’s neighborhood.
- A month later, Gonzalez met VA officials onsite in Leesburg and discussed with them every property that met some of the VA’s stated criteria that were located in their stated geographic preference area. No site met all their criteria.
- At the first meeting, Gonzalez urged the VA to consider a better location located further east, what he thought should be the #1 preferred site.
- Over the next few months the two CCIMs maintained a dialogue with the VA that led to the US Government broadening their geographic preference area.
- Fourteen months after the initial meeting, Gonzalez met a larger contingent of VA officials at the #1 preferred site. However, safety concerns perceived by one member of the review team led to VA to reject this site and move onto Gonzalez’s #2 site.
- As six more months passed, the VA and that property owner learned that they were not on the same page.
- In February 2015, two years after our initial meeting, the VA’s Contract Officer called Gonzalez and asked if Site #1 was still available. “Keep in mind, the US Government works according to appropriation cycles, and the timeframe, during which the money that was allocated for the VA Clinic in NE Lake County had to be committed or it would be lost — was coming to an end,” Gonzalez added.
- The owners of Site #1, Gonzalez’s client, are two savvy businessmen that had essentially soured on the prospect of the clinic project when the powers that be rejected their site on the initial site visit.
- Gonzalez consulted with and pulled together a team with VA clinic construction experience, including the contractor, the civil engineer, and the contract attorney. This team helped convince the owners of Site#1 that dealing with Veteran’s Administration contract administrators on a build to suit of a 9,986 SF building, accepting a relatively low IRR (~5%) on a full service lease was a good long term investment and a great service to our community. The latter point was a major factor in these civic minded property owner’s decision to move forward.
In February 2016, three years after the initial site visits, a certificate of occupancy was issued and the clinic opened its doors. On March 11, 2016 politicians and local dignitaries were given the opportunity to congratulate everyone involved.
“It was particularly rewarding when some of our local Veterans thanked us for making it a bit easier for them to get great health care closer to home,” Gonzalez shared.