Moving day: Ceremony marks completion of first homes
January 28, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- When Kristi Arnold moved to Fort Jackson in July 2005, she and her husband, Sgt. Nicholas Arnold, who is currently deployed to Iraq, decided to live on post - despite the fact that on-post family homes were not up to modern standards. Arnold said she never expected to experience the transformation of Fort Jackson's family housing area into a modern community.
"I remember reading in the paper that they were going to privatize Fort Jackson (housing), and I told my husband, 'We won't see that,'" Arnold said. "We've seen it privatized, then we were part of the groundbreaking, and now we're in the new house."
Arnold and two of the family's five children took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 21 that marked the transfer of nine newly constructed family homes to junior noncommissioned officers and their families.
"It's amazing to see the transformation in just one year," said Brig. Gen. Bradley May, Fort Jackson's commanding general. "Where open woods, open areas, outdated housing - otherwise known as 'vintage quarters' - once existed, we now have this spectacular neighborhood. What an extraordinary step in improving the quality of life for our Soldiers and families."
Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Culbertson said providing new homes to Soldiers reinforces Fort Jackson's commitment to the Army Family Covenant.
"The entire Fort Jackson team has been working on the dream of improving our Soldiers' quality of life to ensure that it is commensurate with the quality of service that our Soldiers and their families provide to this great nation on a daily basis," he said.
The process began with the privatization of housing operations in August 2008. Since then, 296 homes have been demolished and construction is under way at four sites to provide new homes for Soldiers of all ranks.
Balfour Beatty Communities was tasked to operate and manage family housing for 50 years. The five-year initial development period, during which 610 homes will be constructed and 240 existing homes will be renovated, will cost an estimated $168 million.
"Through the partnership between Balfour Beatty Communities and the United States Army, military families can now receive safe, quality, affordable and well-maintained housing promised here just over a year ago. This is indeed a major milestone," said James Harper, Fort Jackson project director with Balfour Beatty Communities.
The groundbreaking for the new homes took place in December 2008 and since then, construction has begun throughout the housing area.
Arnold said that even though dealing with the construction was sometimes difficult, moving into the new home was worth the inconvenience.
"It's kind of overwhelming at times, because to me it's a big deal to have seen all this come around and then be a part of it," she said.
She said she likes many things about her new home, but most enjoys the open floor plan.
"I just like having this openness," she said. "It brings the family together."