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June 13, 2014 06:06 PM

Ellsworth Housing Project Responds To Need For Family Homes

Box Elder, SD

Construction crews have begun work on a 214-unit housing complex on Ellsworth Air Force Base designed to address a long-standing housing need.

It isn't just housing. It's real homes.

"We have only a small number of homes on the base now," Lt. Col. Nicholas Lynch, commander of the 28th Civil Engineers Squadron, said.  "The rental market is very difficult in the city of Rapid City, so having more homes for the airmen on base, it will be a huge quality-of-life boost for our installation."

The $63 million development is part of a larger initiative to privatize military housing.  At Ellsworth, Balfour Beatty Communities took over 283 existing military homes last August. It also will develop and manage the new houses, aiming for a community atmosphere heavy on green space and recreation options.

"It's focused around community parks and open atmosphere to provide a high quality of life for our airmen and their families," BBC project director Robert Herron said.

The base has extensive dormitory-style housing for single Air Force personnel. The big challenge has been finding homes for those with families.  By nearly doubling existing family homes on the base that challenge is being answered, Lynch says.

"There'll be single-family homes, multiple-family homes, ranging from six senior officer quarters all the way down to quarters for our youngest airmen living on base," Lynch said.

The goal is to complete the complex by June of 2016, increasing the total number of military homes on the base to 497. Additional developments will include a community center with basketball and volleyball courts, playgrounds, picnic areas and a dog park.

Homes are scheduled to start coming online next spring.

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