"We just let it go because they wanted to buy it so I said, 'Why work on something when it's going to be taken away anyway and waste money on it?'" he said.
Despite receiving the check, Mercadel said he's not totally happy. He said he owned the property for 14 years and needed the $40,000 he got for his home. He said he expected an amount closer to about $60,000.
"It's just disappointing I'm losing it," he said. "I just really wanted to set it up for rent because I'm trying to set up a retirement for myself. I don't work for the city and get pensions like everybody else. It's just something I've lost and I don't know if I'll get something like this back."
While two other homeowners have accepted their checks, about 600 residents are still fighting the hospital and don't want to sell. "When you have sentimental value like that and you've been around and this is your neighborhood, you can't argue with them," he said.
The VA hospital is being built on property bound by Tulane, south Rocheblave Canal and south Galvez. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said it expects to have all the land necessary by July 2010. The 200-bed VA medical complex is scheduled to open in 2013.