Beale Closing In On Housing Privatization

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Mark J. Shoviak
  • 9th Civil Engineer Squadron
On February 15, 2011, an official news release announced that the Air Force awarded a housing privatization project for the Western Group, consisting of Beale, FE Warren, Wyo., Malmstrom , Mont., and Whitemen, Mo. Barring any unforeseen last minute roadblocks, the keys to Beale's Military Family Housing will be handed over to Balfour Beatty Communities, LLC, on March 8, 2012. From this date forward, Balfour Beatty will provide all development, property management, new construction, renovation, and demolition services for Beale's housing.

Q: Why is the base privatizing housing versus constructing new houses ourselves?
The Air Force made a corporate decision several years ago to pursue attracting private sector financing, expertise and innovation as a means to provide necessary, modernized housing faster and more efficiently than traditional military construction processes allow. Per the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment (AFCEE), commercial construction is not only faster and less costly than military construction, but private-sector funds significantly stretch and leverage the Air Force's limited housing funds. To date, the Air Force has leveraged $469 million of military construction dollars to secure $7.1 billion of private investment, delivering 26,619 new and renovated units for Airmen and their families to live in.

Q: What allows the Air Force to privatize housing?

The Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI), incorporated by U.S. Congress in the 1996 National Defense Authorization Act, is the tool that authorizes the Air Force to enter into agreements with private developers selected in a competitive process to own, maintain and operate family housing via a fifty-year lease. The MHPI allows the Air Force to privatize the housing on all domestic Air Force installations. Per AFCEE, the current Air Force goal is to privatize all continental United States installations housing by the end of fiscal year 2012. Presently, Beale is one of eighteen remaining CONUS Air Force installations to be privatized.

Q: What benefits can the Beale community expect from our current privatized housing deal?

As outlined in the project summary provided by Balfour Beatty during two December 2011 town hall meetings, there are a variety of benefits. Most notable is the construction of 331 new homes in the Beale West, Beale East, and Lakeview neighborhoods. These homes will have more square footage than traditional military construction; have modern appliances, cabinetry and fixtures; and will be made of quality construction. Additionally, the initiative provides a number of community enhancements such as three tot lots, two play lots, four group picnic areas, 10 covered bus shelters, two tennis courts, two volleyball courts, a fenced dog park, and walks/trails connecting amenities. Furthermore, the project demolishes 505 old 1960s era housing units making way for the new construction, and returning the Beale South and Gold Country neighborhoods back to green space. Other benefits include lawn maintenance, renter's insurance, and community activities such as family and community bonding activities, holiday celebrations, and educational/safety events.

The award of the Western Group project is just one more step for the Air Force to achieve its 100 percent privatized CONUS housing goal, but a giant leap in rebuilding a thriving on-base community for all Team Beale members and their families.