ST. PAUL -- With Federal VA funding recently committed, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is moving ahead on planning for three new state veterans homes projects to be located in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston.

Perkins Eastman and Wold Architects and Engineers have been selected as the architects for all three homes, according to a release.

The department also noted that the companies have been working on the three projects for several years and are in the process of submitting their designs to regulatory agencies for review and approval. The process is estimated to take up to 75 days.

Once the designs are approved, construction schedules will be formulated. The lead contractor for the Bemidji project will be Adolfson and Peterson Construction, while Knutson Construction will manage the homes in Montevideo and Preston.

The soliciting for sub-contractors will then begin in the next few months, with construction expected as early as this fall, with an 18-month construction schedule. As part of the process, the release stated that the lead contractors will strive to hire a significant portion of the sub-contractors from the local community.

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Efforts for a veterans home in Bemidji have lasted well over a decade. In the northwest Minnesota region, there are nearly 27,000 veterans and 75% of them are older than 55.

The Department of Veterans Affairs' announcement comes a few weeks after federal funding was announced for the three homes. In 2018, the Minnesota Legislature approved its own funding for the projects, with $12.4 million for Bemidji.

In addition, local government units, organizations and private donors raised about $2.3 million for the project, including $1 million from Beltrami County and $250,000 from the city of Bemidji. The home is estimated at $42 million, with the federal government covering the remaining amount.

Once built, it will include 72 beds and offer both short- and long-term care.