The federal Department of Veterans Affairs plans to begin work Jan. 25 to renovate a little-used building at its West Los Angeles campus into a home for 65 chronically homeless veterans.
Westport Construction Inc. of Arcadia has been chosen as the contractor on the $17.6-million project, scheduled to be completed in spring 2014.
The idea of refurbishing the historic 1945 building was proposed nine years ago by Santa Monica Councilman Bobby Shriver. Veteran activists and elected officials have complained about the length of time it took to secure funding and put the job out to bid.
Westport's website said the project would include seismic upgrades to the three-story structure, which recently housed a workshop where veterans learned silk screening and print-making skills.
The project aims to create 55 new dwelling units, including 10 shared apartments, and supportive programs such as job training. One wing has been designated for women. Elements of the historic structure, Building 209, will be restored.
Providing housing and rehabilitative services for 65 veterans amounts to a small step, veteran activists have said, given that Los Angeles County has as many as 8,000 veterans sleeping on the streets each night.
Westport's past projects included remodeling the Alexandria and Boyle hotels in Los Angeles.