A $199 million redevelopment that will provide aging veterans at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home with new, modern facilities is moving into full gear at the venerable campus atop Powder Horn Hill.
The project will replace the Soldiers’ Home’s existing 71-year-old Lawrence F. Quigley Memorial Long Term Care Facility with a new 154-bed long-term care facility.
“We are excited to move forward in providing state-of-the-art care for our veteran community with dignity, honor, and respect,” State Veterans Services Secretary Francisco Ureña said in e-mailed comments.
Contractors are now laying the foundations for the 247,000-square-foot structure, targeted to open in fall 2022. The project broke ground in late 2018, but much of the work until now has involved digging geothermal wells for the future building’s heating and cooling systems.
Officials overseeing the state-owned Soldiers’ Home — an agency within the State Department of Veterans’ Services — said the project was needed because the Quigley building is antiquated. It will also allow the Soldiers’ Home for the first time to offer all its long-term care residents private rooms.
Additionally, the future facility was designed as a “Community Living Center,” a model officials said will enhance resident qualify of life. Promoted by federal officials, such facilities offer a homey-style atmosphere. Each floor in the Chelsea building will consist of 14 resident rooms, along with centralized, shared spaces — including a dining room and a living room.
“We look forward to the opening of the Community Living Center and the extraordinary impact it will make for aging veterans for decades to come,” Soldiers’ Home Superintendent Cheryl Lussier Poppe said by e-mail.
The project, which is being undertaken with the help of $129 million in funding from the US Department of Veterans Services, is designed to incorporate green features. In addition to the geothermal wells, the building will have a rooftop solar array.
Established in 1882, the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home is the second-oldest such state-owned facility in the nation. Spanning 11 buildings on the 23-acre hilltop site, it serves honorably discharged veterans from Massachusetts, predominantly from counties other than the four westernmost ones, whose veterans are served by the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.
The 174-bed Quigley building — because of new federal standards since 2015 it has been limited to using 139 beds — was an acute-care facility until it transitioned to skilled-nursing care in a shift completed in 2007. The Quigley building will be demolished after the opening of the new facility, the name of which has yet to be determined.
The Soldiers’ Home also includes a 305-bed complex of dormitories for veterans who are able to live independently. The dorm buildings, which date from 1882 to 1960, are not part of the project and will remain in operation. An outpatient clinic closed in 2013.
Services provided to residents at the Quigley building, including physical and occupational care, will continue when the new facility opens.
Meanwhile, residents will have greater access to outdoor activities due to upgrades to nearby Malone Park and the walkways connecting to it that are planned as part of the project.
About 319 people currently work at the Soldiers’ Home, a number officials anticipate will grow when the new building opens because of the greater staff requirements for an all-private room facility.
Chelsea, which has long enjoyed a close connection to the Soldiers’ Home as the host community, is “extremely happy” about the project, City Manager Thomas G. Ambrosino said by e-mail.
“This new, state-of-the-art facility will be extremely beneficial to veterans of Chelsea and the Commonwealth, providing them with the quality care and dignity that they have earned serving our country,” he said.
John Laidler can be reached at email@example.com.