By David VergunJune 26, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (Army News Service, June 26, 2013) -- Wainwright Hall recently became the latest Army lodging to see improvements through privatization efforts.
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment; Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia; Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky; and other distinguished guests attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house reception, June 25, at the newly privatized and restored lodging facility.
"This is a historic event," Hammack announced prior to the ribbon cutting. "It's always great to see old buildings restored or brought back to life in ways that respect their heritage."
Wainwright Hall is a venerable two-story, 108-year-old brick structure that was opened just a few years before Orville Wright's exhibition flights were made at an airfield on what was then called Fort Myer, in 1908 and 1909.
The land itself once belonged to Robert E. Lee, prior to the Civil War.
"Older buildings like this can retain their character while delivering quality and sustainable lodging," she said, noting that the building has been designated one of the state's historical sites.
Hammack explained the process used to renovate Wainwright Hall.
The privatization of Wainwright Hall and other lodging on 39 installations across the army "builds on the legacy of the Residential Communities Initiative," or RCI, she said.
The goal of RCI is to eliminate inadequate Army family housing by partnering with the private sector so the Army can save money.
"This is an opportunity to give Soldiers and their families quality housing through partnering with the private sector," Hammack continued.
Those private-sector entities include Lend Lease (US) Public Partnerships, the developer; and InterContinental Hotels Group, the lodging operator.
The partnerships are used to restore or build new Army lodging "in such a way that is not in competition with the private sector," she said.
Hammack said it cost about $4 million to bring Wainwright Hall up to modern-day standards.
Those standards, she explained, include energy-saving heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting systems and controls. Those advances are projected to reduce energy costs by 30 percent, thereby saving the Army even more money.
Army lodging is essential for Soldiers, Hammack said, explaining that they and their families need a place to stay when they change duty stations while waiting for their new housing to become available.
Also, she said lodging is used by Soldiers on temporary duty for short-term training so they don't need to find a place off-post and deal with commuting hassles.
"It makes training more effective and efficient," she said.
Privatized Army lodging, or PAL, saves Soldiers money because "the cost of newly renovated rooms leaves them 75 percent of their per diem, which enables Soldiers to have flexibility to fund some of the cost associated with TDY travel or PCS moves," Hammack said.
Lodging can also be used by authorized visitors to installations.
PAL, which got started in 2009, will eventually result in the renovation of about 9,000 rooms and 2,600 newly constructed rooms to replace those in "failed or failing facilities" Army-wide, she said.
Currently under construction are five Candlewood Suites hotels on Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, that, once completed, will be the largest in the world.
The PAL program has already delivered 1,277 Holiday Inn Express hotel rooms to military installations throughout the U.S.
"This is a model for future public-private partnerships, a model that helps deliver services to Soldiers and families," Hammack concluded. "Great results can be achieved when working together in partnership."