Air Force breaks ground on new Charleston housing

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For the very first time, Joint Base Charleston will have a privatized housing community for military families in the Air Force. Before the new housing complex will be built on base, more than 450 old homes will be demolished.

"The house we're living in now is over 60 years old. It's well taken care of, but it definitely shows it's age. To know that new houses are going that are 3-4 bedrooms compared to what we're living in now, it's a huge step up," said 17th Airlift Squadron First Lieutenant Michael Grabowski.

Grabowski will be living in one of the new homes in the "Main Base Charleston" complex when it's ready. Three-hundred thirty-five new single family homes or duplexes will be built, by private housing developer "Forest City Military Communities."

"They have access to funds that the military has to go through the government process to get. That's why they can do it faster, that's why they don't have a lot of the hurdles we have to go through,"  said 628th Civil Engineer Squadron Commander Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Altwies.

The community is to include many amenities for the families who live on base, like a community center, walking trails, and even a dog park.

Forest City estimates to demolish and rebuild the on-base neighborhood will cost $310 million. It is to be paid for in partnership with the Air Force, through housing allowances and the developer.

"Having these houses, not just being off base, but having the convenience of living on base in these new houses is just pretty awesome," Grabowski said.

Forest City will build out the neighborhood throughout the next two and a half years. The first homes should be ready by fall of next year.

Forest City Military Communities will be the property manager of the base housing complex for the next 50 years. The company also has plans to build a complex at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter and at bases in Biloxi, MS and Tullahoma, TN.

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