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MIAMI-The federal Department of Veterans Affairs has purchased the 313-acre Wagenberg tract in southern Palm Beach County for $11.25 million or $35,942 per acre (83 cents per sf).

The sellers were property trustees Salo Wagenberg, Mauricio Gluck and Geza Baumohl.

The VA says in a prepared statement it will use the land to build a 120,000-plot national cemetery at an estimated construction cost of $23 million to serve a portion of South Florida’s nearly 438,000 veterans.

The site is west of U.S. 441 and State Road 7, near Boca Raton, FL.The VA plans to begin burials there in two years, although the cemetery will not yet be completed, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi says in the statement.

The VA expects to award a contract for master planning and design this year. In his fiscal year 2003 budget, President Bush requested $23.3 million to build the cemetery.

Construction of its permanent buildings and roadways, along with the 120,000 burial sites, is scheduled to be completed in 2005.

“For many years, South Florida has been on VA’s priority list for building a much needed national cemetery,” Principi says. Two VA studies have concluded that South Florida has a large number of veterans not served by a national or state veterans cemetery.

The VA’s 2002 budget includes design funding for the cemetery. The VA chose the Boca Raton area site from 13 potential sites, citing this property’s access to highways and capacity for casketed gravesites, as well as mature vegetation.

Veterans with discharges other than dishonorable, as well as their spouses and dependent children, may be buried in the cemetery.

Throughout the country, VA operates 120 national cemeteries.

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