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Housing privatized at six more bases

New and renovated homes, community centers in works

Sep. 14, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Corvias Military Living built this Randolph Pointe community and pool at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Corvias Military Living built this Randolph Pointe community and pool at Fort Bragg, N.C. (Courtesy of Corvias Military Living)
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The company plans to build community centers at each of the six Air Force bases that will be similar to this neighborhood center at Fort Riley. (Courtesy of Corvias Military Living)

BY THE NUMBERS

The new private housing contractor will build or renovate about 2,000 homes at three bases, while managing existing homes on another three. The plan:
McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.: Build 157 new homes and renovate 207
Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.: Build 747 new homes
Hurlburt Field, Fla.: Build 404 new homes and renovate 522

Airmen at six bases from Alaska to Florida will get new community centers or new or renovated homes — and in some cases all of the above — as part of a growing Defense Department effort to shift the costs of base housing to private companies.

Corvias Military Living has operated Army on-base housing since 1999. This is the company’s first foray into the Air Force. Corvias recently took over the development and management at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.; McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.; and Eglin and Hurlburt Field in Florida.

Heath Burleson, a Corvias program director involved in the acquisition of the Air Force properties, said new clients at these bases can expect top-notch service from the start. “We’ve been in military privatization for 14 years. We really feel like at Corvias Military Living we’ve reshaped the expectations of what quality of life can and should be for military service members across the nation,” he said.

The deal is part of a 50-year, $725 million transaction involving nearly 2,500 acres at the six bases.

“Over the course of this agreement, we will finance, plan, design, renovate, manage and maintain just over 4,000 existing homes,” Burleson said. The company also will build 1,300 new homes and renovate hundreds more.

Burleson said Corvias made the decision on whether to renovate, build or both based on the quality and condition of the homes.

Corvias will build new community centers at each of the bases. The centers usually include a resort-style swimming pool, lounge, meeting space, a fitness center, a media room, children’s playroom and a computer lab, according to newsletters that went out to residents.

Troops who live in privatized base housing pay rent — usually their Basic Allowance for Housing — to the companies that own and operate the homes. Privatization began in the late 1990s and has grown steadily, with the Marine Corps privatizing more than 99 percent of its housing. In turn, budget requests for family housing have dropped. Defense and service officials credit privatization for shielding military housing from the corrosive effects of budget cuts.

Prior to privatization, most of BAH for troops who lived on base went back to the services to operate and maintain government housing. But the services dipped into those funds for other priorities.

Burleson said traditional military-managed base housing is far different from privatized housing. “We, as a private entity, can go into the marketplace to secure financing.” That allows the company to work quicker and effect larger changes.

According to newsletters sent to the base, the first of 157 new homes at McConnell could be ready as early as 2014. Renovations to 207 existing homes on base will begin early next year and will include partially finished basements. The community center at Eglin — where 747 new homes are also in the works — is scheduled to be completed by 2015.

The first of 404 new homes at Hurlburt will be ready by fall 2014. And by the end of this year, renovations will start on 522 homes at Edwards.

“At the end of the day, airmen and their families have a choice,” Burleson said. “Through our commitment for being the best provider of service, we really hope living on a base is a very easy choice.”

Karen Jowers contributed to this report.

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