The land, which also includes a lake and cabin, is north across Second Street from Bert Nash, which is located in the Community Health Facility, 200 Maine.
Bert Nash CEO David Johnson said the center has paid $2,500 in earnest money, and now the parties are examining the property, 138 Ala., to make sure there are no reasons the deal couldn’t go through. He expects to take possession in six to eight months.
“We are buying it for future plans and a strategic direction,” Johnson said.
He would not elaborate on details of those plans.
Jerry Karr, past commander of the VFW post, said members decided to sell because they are having a hard time keeping up with bills and taxes, and that’s due to a reduction in membership.
“World War II had a large veteran population and they purchased that land,” Karr said. “That population is now gone. Very few are left.”
He said there are about 450 members, but some are out of state and in care facilities.
Karr said the VFW post is actively looking for a new, smaller home. They aren’t sure whether they are going to lease or buy yet. It will be the fourth location in Lawrence for the VFW. It has been at the current location since the early 1960s.
He said the approximately 3,000-square-foot building has a bar that’s open daily. There’s also a ballroom, kitchen and storage area. The VFW has a dinner every Friday night.
Karr said he and other members are sad to let the property go. He spent a lot of time around the lake and in the cabin as a child because his father was a World War II veteran.
“We just couldn’t hold on to it,” Karr said. “It was better to lose a building than to lose the VFW presence in Lawrence, Kansas.”
Johnson said Bert Nash is able to purchase the property by leveraging a memorial fund.
Johnson said the board of directors bought a $1 million key person life insurance policy on Dr. Sandra Shaw, who was CEO for 22 years. She died in November after a battle with cancer. The money went into a memorial fund to honor Shaw’s parents, Alfred and Lena Cote. Bert Nash is using the fund as collateral and the earnings toward payments for the building.
“Clearly, we are going through challenging times, but our approach has been to try and plan for where we want to be in the future rather than just cover our heads and say, ‘Ain’t it awful’ and just let things happen to us,” Johnson said. “We are trying to take some control over our own destiny.”
Bert Nash provides a variety of outpatient therapy options for adults and children, including individual and group therapy. It serves about 5,900 residents annually.