Fort Benning, Ga. - Military family housing options recently doubled for Soldiers at Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Ga., with the expansion of Porter Village.

Thirty-seven new homes were completed last month and are ready for Ranger families. Porter Village also received a swimming pool, cabana, playground and basketball court, said Mike Douglass, project manager for Clark Realty Capital, the developer and builder for Fort Benning Family Communities LLC.

A ribbon-cutting celebration was held June 12 at the new Flohr Pool. COL Doug Flohr, the Ranger Training Brigade commander and former 5th Ranger Training Battalion commander; LTC Kyle Lear, the previous battalion commander; and LTC Chris Stone, the new commander, attended the opening.

It's part of the Army's Residential Communities Initiative, a 50-year effort to turn government-owned housing over to the private sector, post housing officials said. The program is currently in the fourth year of a decade-long initial development plan.

"That 10-year period is when we're doing most of the new housing construction and renovations," said Keith Lovejoy, RCI program manager.

The $612 million initial development phase covers the demolition of 1,222 sets of quarters, construction of nearly 1,400 new homes, and renovation of more than 2,550 historic and nonhistoric homes on Fort Benning and at Camp Merrill.

Camp Merrill is home to the 5th Ranger Training Battalion - with Porter Village about 12 miles away in the city of Dahlonega.

Douglass said the Army built 40 houses at Porter Village in 1995. The relatively small community includes a mix of enlisted Soldiers and officers.

"It's a nice spot to be," Douglass said. "The big benefit was getting more Ranger families together, living in the same neighborhood, their children able to go to the same schools and a shorter drive from home to Camp Merrill than from other surrounding communities."

Clark Realty spent about $6 million on the 37 new homes and other upgrades at Porter, he said.

Lovejoy said the project illustrates the commitment to improve housing for Soldiers and families.

The new units at Porter Village are ENERGY STAR-certified, a design aimed at protecting the environment through enhanced energy efficiency. Some homes include decks and all feature three or four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, modernized kitchens, new appliances and two-vehicle garages.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16