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Privatized housing project at Eglin AFB getting ready for grand opening

  • Published
  • By Carole Chiles Fuller
  • AFCEC Public Affairs
As the Air Force Civil Engineer Center's Installations Directorate celebrates the 20th anniversary of privatized base housing this year, a new neighborhood is about to open at Eglin AFB.

Anchored by the 12,000-square-foot Warrior Landing Community Center, the 747-residence community is set to have its grand opening May 3. The first residents are expected to move in the week of April 7. Most reside in base housing built in the 1950s that is scheduled for demolition to make room for new construction.

"We expect 32 new move-ins in April," said Kim Cariker, community management director for Corvias Military Living, the private housing partnership firm. "Occupancy was around 70 percent when we closed the project in September 2013. Now it sits steadily between 95 to 97 percent and we hope that only gets better with the new developments."

Cariker attributes the rise in occupancy rate to privatization allowing them to provide efficient and responsive building maintenance and customer service.

"These families are so deserving of this beautiful community," she said of the new development, a mix of duplexes and single-family homes.

The project at Eglin is emblematic of program success Air Force-wide, said Robert Moriarty, Installations director at AFCEC.

"The program revolves around providing quality customer service and building thriving communities for our Air Force families," Moriarty said. "Resident satisfaction is the number one indicator of program success; over the past two decades we've seen satisfaction climb and maintain parity with industry standards."

The new Eglin homes feature a British West Indies architectural style that reflects a Florida Gulf sensibility. There will be homes for those of all ranks, from junior enlisted to general grade officers. The company's design team toured the bases and surrounding area to develop plans that fit the architectural design of the area.

"Base leadership is very enthusiastic. They have waited a long time for this," Cariker said.

In addition to new homes, Eglin residents will have a community center with a back porch that features an outdoor kitchen and overlooks a large pool with below-surface sunning benches, room for swimming laps and a walk-in entrance for children. There will also be a pool house situated on the other side of the pool.

"The pool should be ready and open by the grand opening on May 3," Cariker said.

The center has an Americana-themed game room with a pool table in the form of a vintage Ford Mustang, a motif that is repeated in love seats, table sets and other décor. The center also has a large meeting room with kitchen; a workout room with the latest in exercise machines that face a children's play area with a glass wall so parents can keep an eye on their youngsters while they work out; a yoga/stretching room; and an indoor basketball court. Historic photographs of Eglin AFB are prominently featured in the center's décor.

"The community centers have evolved over time, based on changing times, as well as resident and employee feedback," Cariker said.

The center is only for residents of the yet-to-be-named community and their guests. It also serves as offices for Corvias property management and the Eglin Housing Management Office to facilitate assignment and support of the families with one-stop service.

Taking care of Airmen and their families is the ultimate goal, said Mark Schlueter, 96th Civil Engineer Group deputy. He is eager for more Air Force families to experience what privatized housing has to offer.

"We have real reason to celebrate," Schlueter said. "After many years of preparation and overcoming tremendous obstacles, Eglin Airmen will finally have the quality on-base housing they deserve. Hopefully, these comfortable accommodations will reduce deploying Airmen's anxiety knowing their families at home are well cared for, and not living in sub-standard quarters. It will be a joyous occasion when we move the first residents into their new homes, and even more so when we move the last in the near future."