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Work at veterans clinic gains board approval

Joseph L. Myers, left, the architect who designed the new Youngstown VA Outpatient Clinic on Belmont Avenue, discusses the proposal Tuesday with Michael Downing, whose company is building the facility, at a Youngstown Board of Zoning Appeals meeting

YOUNGSTOWN — The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals is recommending approval for work at a new Youngstown VA Outpatient Clinic.

Mike Downing, owner of Downing Construction Co. of Warrensville Heights — which is building and leasing the property at 1815 Belmont Ave. for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — asked Tuesday for waivers to the city’s requirements for 75-foot setbacks. The board agreed with Downing and recommended to city council that the legislative body grant the waivers.

The board recommended the front-yard setback be reduced to 15 feet, 8 inches; the rear-yard setback be 25 feet; and the side-yard setback be 64 feet, 4 inches, as requested by Downing.

One issue that concerned Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, a board member, was related to handicapped accessibility from the bus shelter on Belmont Avenue, in front of the proposed facility, to the clinic’s entrance.

“We will provide a cut-through for a sidewalk by the bus shelter to get access to the clinic,” said Joseph L. Myers, a Willoughby architect who designed the project.

The VA announced in July it had come to an agreement with Downing’s company on a $24.74 million, 20-year lease for a new clinic. It is less than a half-mile from the existing clinic that’s been there since the early 1990s.

Construction will start as soon as the Mahoning County Building Department grants a permit. It is scheduled to be finished by October 2020, Downing said.

The new building, on 4.28 acres of property, will be 40,561 square feet with the VA clinic taking up 38,319 square feet and a tenant, yet to be determined, leasing 2,142 square feet at the rear of the structure.

The VA clinic, currently located at 2031 Belmont Ave., is 25,846 square feet.

Moving into the larger space will enhance the primary, mental health and specialty care to more than 10,500 veterans served each year at the clinic, according to the VA.

The new location will allow for the use of the VA’s “Patient Aligned Care Team” model that allows patients to receive specialized care from a team of a primary care provider, nurse care manager, clinical associate and administrative clerk, according to the VA.

The clinic is one of 18 VA locations in northeast Ohio. It employs 94 and provides a full range of services that include primary care and mental health services, women’s health, podiatry and physical therapy.

This will be the third VA facility built by Downing and designed by Myers. The two built and designed the Lake County VA Outpatient Clinic in Willoughby and a surgery center next to the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, they said.

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