ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- It's time to invite some friends over.

Rock Island Arsenal unveiled its new housing June 1 to a variety of spectators including its most important attendees -- a Soldier and his family.

The new housing is located in two areas on the historic Army installation -- near the east end adjacent to Rodman Avenue -- RIA's main street -- and on the west end off of Durnin Avenue.

"It's great [living on post] because it gives me the opportunity to go home after physical training , for lunch, and it's great spending [more] time with the family," explained Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Rothwell, First U.S. Army.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at 2571 Gronen Avenue. The purpose of the event was to commemorate the acceptance of the first new housing units now available for move-in.

Rothwell, his wife, Nicole, and their four children were the first occupants. Rothwell and his family recently moved from Vicenza, Italy.

"The quality of the house we're in is phenomenal. They definitely put some money into it. We're really impressed with this base housing," Rothwell said.

All told, there are 71 new housing units.

There are 23 units for the ranks of sergeant major and chief warrant officer 4/5; 16 for warrant officers between the ranks of 1 -- 3 and senior non-commissioned officers with the rank of sergeant first class and master sergeant; 12 for field grade officers with the rank of major and lieutenant colonel; eight for company grade officers with rank of second lieutenant through captain; six for senior officers with the rank of colonel; and six for junior non-commissioned officers in the rank of sergeant and staff sergeant.

The size of the units ranges from 1,630 square feet to 2,520 square feet. All have either three or four bedrooms.

Col. Kenneth Tauke, commander, U.S. Army Garrison, RIA, said the new housing replaces units built in the 1970s which ranged between 1,200 and 1,400 square feet. The new housing reflects the needs of today's families, ultimately reducing stress on them. Unlike off-post rentals, Army family housing requires no deposits, he pointed out.

There were actually two Army family housing projects, explained a public affairs specialist with the Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District.

The first referred to as the "Army Family Housing FY 2015 project," created 33 single-family housing units. The contract was for $23,045,000.

The second was the "Army Family Housing Replacement FY 2016 Project," creating 38 single-family housing units. This was comprised of eight single-family homes and 15 duplexes (30 residences). The contract was for $23,347,009.

The cost of the projects included overhead, larger utility hookups, new roads, new fencing, rock excavation, supervision and administration, demolition and fair profit.

"The project started below ground with no existing facilities, no sewer or electricity, no streets or storm sewers, a completely blank slate," said Eric Cramer, USAG public affairs officer, referring to the west side housing.

"As you can see, we now have a new 'city block' here with not only housing, but the support infrastructure required to make the housing, the neighborhood, a viable place to live," Cramer said.

Regarding the costs of the housing along Rodman Avenue, Cramer said that also included a sewer and power upgrade, and the demolition of existing housing and the creation of two new streets.

The RIA Department of Public Works and the ACOE, Louisville District, planned and coordinated construction efforts.

"These Army family housing units were built to provide a better quality of life for our Soldiers and their families," said Capt. Kyle Brinks, a project manager with the ACOE, Louisville District, who was a guest speaker at the ceremony.

Brinks added that houses are LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, silver certified meaning they are resource-efficient, use less water and energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and consequently save money.

LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world.

In addition, the appliances, shingles and ventilation systems are Energy Star certified, Brinks said.

Besides other neighborhood amenities like basketball courts, playgrounds, running paths, bus stops, and scenic views of the Mississippi River, Brinks said "to ensure the safety and protection of Soldiers and their families" from the unpredictable and sometimes violent weather of the Midwest, all were built with storm shelters.

Both contracts were awarded as "best value" and were based on market survey results which indicated which type of solicitation to use, the ACOE public affairs specialist said.

Two existing duplexes remain intact as they were used as office space by contractors. The fate of those buildings remains to be determined.

As of now, 22 units are finished and ready for move-in. Tauke said plans call for all units to be occupied by the end of September.