Giving Thanks for Service and Sacrifice

Three events this month give rise to the topic of this newsletter.  Two of them happen every year, and are the highlight of the year for many individuals.  The third event is a “grand opening” of sorts and is unique to this year!

Veterans Day is a day to celebrate the service and sacrifice of the members of the US Armed Forces.  The first Veterans Day parade was held in Birmingham, and the City never misses an opportunity to extend a hearty “thank you!” to all veterans, especially those residing in the Birmingham area.

Thanksgiving … that sweet holiday filled with family and food!  The remembrance of the Pilgrims enduring adversity in their first months in this new land, and of their intentionally setting aside a time to give thanks to God for His care and His strength bestowed to them.  Even the name reminds us of the holiday’s reason: a time to express our gratitude to those we owe a debt of gratitude to … principally to the Lord who continues to bless us, but also to others!

Before explaining the third significant event, allow me to offer an introduction.  In late 2009, Herrington Architects received a call from MAP Development (a Birmingham-based real estate developer) asking our interest in responding to a Request for Proposals.  The Project was the design, construction, financing, and management of a structure to house homeless veterans (or veterans at risk of becoming homeless).  Needless to say, we were interested!

Our personnel assisted in this endeavor in many ways.  We prepared an Architectural Program for the Project, followed by a Conceptual Design with outline specifications.  We also collected information from numerous parties that collaborated on the Proposal, and we assembled and/or wrote the Proposal.  Ultimately, the Department of Veterans Affairs selected our teams’ Proposal!

Financing for the Project was probably the most complex I have known.  Sources of funds included Low Income Housing Tax Credits (awarded by the Alabama Housing Finance Authority), Historic Preservation Tax Credits (awarded by the State of Alabama), and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Other assistance came from the City of Tuscaloosa and the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority.  (I know I am leaving out other organizations who contributed their capital and/or energy to the Project … I apologize!)

The result?  On Monday November 11th, the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center (TVAMC) held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of “Valor Grove”.  A new “home for the homeless”, the facility provides 50 furnished apartments for homeless veterans … with particular focus on women veterans or veterans with families!

Valor Grove will also provide programs to help homeless persons re-enter society and cultivate productive lifestyles.  Counselors will offer assistance with personal finances and budgeting, obtaining a job (resume preparation and interviewing skills), family relationships, and other skills that many of us take for granted.

All this would not have been possible without the intense determination of MAP Development, especially Mark Peeples and Scott McGee.  Many thanks to you in your resolve to give – to ensure that many veterans who served our country and gave so much have a better chance at a better life!

Project Profile: Valor Grove 

Herrington Birmingham Architects Valor GroveValor Grove is a 60,000sf development that provides living accommodations, administrative offices, seminar/conference rooms, and recreational facilities for veterans and their families.

A 30,000sf TVAMC building was completely renovated and contains 25 1-bedroom apartments and counseling offices.  A 30,000sf addition is home to the primary administrative offices and 25 more apartments (a blend of 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom units).

Historic materials and details were maintained in the existing building and featured where possible.

Do you have any comments or questions? Please feel free to contact me! Click here to send an email or call (205) 326-1131.

Bruce Herrington