Putnam County Commissioners voted Monday night to carve out roughly seven to ten acres from the old Fairgrounds property for a possible new VA Clinic.
The new clinic would sit in the fairgrounds parking lot at the corner of Walnut Avenue and Veterans Drive. Multiple developers are interested in building the facility if the Veterans Administration decides to locate the building in Cookeville. That includes E2L, the company that currently holds the option on the entire fairgrounds property.
But at least six other developers have reached out to the county interested in acquiring a non-exclusive option on that piece of land. County Attorney Jeff Jones said the other developers must show the federal government that they, too, could buy the property.
“What we’ve got to do is be able to do something with these other developers, some sort of a document that they can use to submit as part of their application packages,” Jones said. “They can’t use a notice of intent. And also we need to do something legally to take care of the carve out clause that’s in the option agreement right now. So what we’ve done is we’ve drafted and we’ve been working with the current developer who has the option agreement on this as well, is we’ve developed a conditional option agreement.”
Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said the developers must submit paperwork to the VA by October 23. The VA is expected to choose which cities would get a clinic by the end of the year or first quarter 2024. Porter said the VA is also looking at several other pieces of property in Cookeville.
At the fairgrounds site, the exact amount of land and the purchase price must still be determined following a survey. Commissioners voted to give Porter the power to set those parameters.
Jones said the conditional option agreement is based on three criteria: the property is selected by the VA for a facility, E2L is not chosen to to build that facility, and the developer holding the option is selected. Commissioners voted to charge $1,000 for the six-month option.
The entire 41.4 acre fairgrounds property remains under option through October and Porter said he expects the current developer to extend the option for another 120 days. Porter said his office has worked closely with the current developer to ensure the carve out does not adversely impact the price of the total property.
“The goal is that the $12.42 million that we have with the option is that whatever we reduce if we sell this, whatever we reduce, the rest of the property has to bring the balance of that,” Porter said. “And so that’s the reason we’re working with the developer to make sure that we have that price right and we’re competitive with these other pieces of property around.”
But Jones admitted the corner lot may be one of the more valuable pieces of the property.