Corvias and Fort Riley broke ground in the Warner Peterson neighborhood at the construction site of 96 future new homes Oct. 1.

The new homes are being built as part of a series of housing projects already underway, an investment which totals $62 million in new construction, renovations, and energy efficient upgrades at Fort Riley.

Corvias' total direct investment money - $325 million - will be spent on projects throughout the seven installations they partner with over the next few years, said Heath Burleson, partnership advisor, Corvias.

"What this is going to do is allow us to inject much needed capital into our overall Army portfolio," Burleson said. "It's going to allow us to have significant and meaningful improvements over the course of two to three years that could potentially take 15 to 20 years through traditional methods. This is the first of its kind, this direct investment, it's never been done for the Army."

"We spent [more than] 18 months of really working to try to determine the best way that we can improve the asset," Burleson said. "The traditional methods of building up the reinvestment reserve accounts, waiting till it gets to a certain point, and then saying ok, let's go and build 50 or 100 new homes every ten years - that's not a meaningful impact. So what we determined is that we need to figure out a way to have a truly meaningful impact in order to improve the asset overall. That's what this $325 million direct investment does."

In addition to the construction of the 96 new homes, Fort Riley's $62 million share of that investment is being spent on major renovations of 32 homes in the Rim Rock neighborhood, new roofs on 75 historic homes, weatherproofing of 250 homes, and landscape improvements throughout the communities.

The work on many of these projects has already begun, said Steve Milton, chief, Housing Division, Fort Riley Directorate of Public Works.

"Many of the new roofs are going up now; the renovations in Rim Rock, we're working that now as well," Milton said. "Today is the start of the 96 new homes piece, and the project is and has already been going through and doing the assessments on the hot water heaters and the HVAC systems and the thermostats for the energy conservation pieces of this initiative. That's all in process now."

Burleson added that other immediate impact projects - things like pressure washing and gutter cleaning - are also underway.

Additionally, part of Fort Riley's share of the direct investment will go toward energy efficient upgrades, including the replacement of more than 110,000 light fixtures with energy-efficient LEC bulbs, the installation of more than 26,500 aerator devices on sink faucets and shower heads, the installation of more than 3,700 new ENERGY STAR thermostats, and the installation of roughly 250 ENERGY STAR heating and cooling units.

"We have controllable expenses, and then we have our uncontrollable expenses, which are our utility expenses," Burleson said. "So part of this direct investment is going to allow us to put a little bit of control - actually a lot of control - into that uncontrollable. We anticipate, with those energy savings, through those data driven technologies, roughly $300 million in utility savings over the next 30 years. That's a lot of money."

Col. Stephen Shrader, Fort Riley garrison commander, said the initiative is made possible because Fort Riley and Corvias share one focus: delivering safe and quality housing to the Soldiers and families that are living on Fort Riley.

"This is an indication of the partnership we have with Corvias," Shrader said. "And more importantly, it's a partnership that we have with the residents of Fort Riley. Because it's your feedback, your dialogue and communication with us in the Garrison and with the Corvias team that helps us make those improvements and to put that money where it belongs, to take care of the facilities, to take care of the infrastructure, and to make sure we have safe, quality housing for everybody."

The new homes, which will feature newer interiors, upgraded colors, proximity to amenities like recreation facilities and schools, will likely make the new Warner Peterson a very desirable neighborhood for future residents, said Angela Watson, operations director for Corvias-Fort Riley.

She added that her team is always excited to complete projects that make things better for Fort Riley residents.

"Fort Riley has had the benefit of being one of the top-ranked installations, but we believe we can always be better," Watson said. "At the end of the day, the reason that we're all here is to support the Soldiers and their families and to provide them the best place to live. They are our main focus and we want to always remember that and remind them that's what we think about and that's how we make our decisions every single day."