VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Sentara Healthcare has confirmed to WAVY that it is joining forces with Vanguard Landing to help build a nearly $40 million housing community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Virginia Beach.

It’s a development that’s been in the works for a decade, and has hit many roadblocks along the way. However, it appears the dream has been renewed.

As 10 On Your Side has reported, the non-profit corporation wants to build a nearly $40 million housing community for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

For years, Vanguard Landing has struggled, nothing’s been built, but there could be light at the end of tunnel with the help of a powerful new friend in Sentara.  

As 10 On Your Side has reported, the 75.5-acre site along Princess Anne Road has had issues with the city of Virginia Beach. 

The city wants Vanguard to repay what is left of a $2.8 million taxpayer backed loan which is now reduced to about $1.4 million. Sentara is willing to pay the city that money so Vanguard can go to Virginia Housing and get a $30 million loan for the Vanguard Landing Project.  

Sentara Healthcare Executive Vice President Aubrey Layne not only wants to make the project succeed, but his team has already reached out to Virginia Housing to push the loan along.

Layne thinks Sentara’s involvement is critical.

“It tells them that there is a party that believes that this project has a chance of getting done,” Layne said, “and it could be used as a model across the state.” 

Layne also thinks past differences between Vanguard Landing Executive Director Debbie Dear and the City of Virginia Beach need to be put aside.

“We are working hand-in-hand with Virginia Beach and Vanguard Landing,” Layne told WAVY. “I do not want to know what went on before; I am not interested in it. If we are going to do it, it is in the interest of the community, so we want all parties working together.”

The city of Virginia Beach could vote on this agreement for Sentara to pay off the loan April 18.

“The Board voted to set aside $40 million in a revolving line of credit to help projects like Vanguard Landing get going,” Layne said from a conference room in a Sentara Healthcare corporate office.

Layne made it clear he cares about Dear and her dream to build a community for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities,

“We will certainly be their partners that this project comes to fruition,” Layne said.

Layne said Sentara will not own the land, and will pay off Vanguard Landing’s remaining $1.4 million loan with Virginia Beach.

“We are willing to put our funds up for this amount to make sure this project has a chance of being successful which we do think it will,” Layne said.

Layne said the discussions began with Dear about a month ago after a mutual friend introduced the two.

He said his team is in now in contact with Virginia Housing, which will decide whether to fund Dear’s dream.

“They are positive, and they (seem willing to give her in the) $30-million range.”

We asked Layne, to what extent is Sentara financially dedicated.

“We could certainly do more, depending on how the project develops,” Layne said. “That is additional funding, or a grant, or additional services, or just offering support in our clinical aspirations.”

It is clear the construction of auxiliary services for the community could include Sentara, and Layne offered the possibility of a clinic.

Layne and Sentara are all in to make Vanguard Landing work.

“Sentara Health will do everything it can to make this project possible,” Layne said. “If this does not happen, another project could.”

Dear’s critics have wondered whether she is qualified to undertake the management of such a massive construction project. Layne had this answer for that.

“One of the reasons we decided to get involved, one of the agreements we have with the city, we can bring in help and help Debbie in those areas where she may or may not need some help,” Layne said. “I am not sure she does or doesn’t need help.”

Virginia Beach Vice Mayor Rosemary Wilson thinks it is a win win for all.

“With Sentara coming along there is a good chance of success and we can protect the taxpayers…and get their money back,” Wilson said. “This was a non-interest loan Vanguard Landing had for a long time.”

Layne is very forward thinking, as he brings his vast government experience to the table – having served on the Commonwealth Transportation Board, having served as Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Finance.

“This method is everyone together… there is not help for these individuals,” Layne said. “This is very much needed, so we believe this is a starting point, and we will move forward from here. Learn as we go.”