FORT LEE, Va. (Oct. 3, 2019) -- Standing alongside senior installation leaders and Hunt Military Communities representatives, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jose Uribe and family cut the ribbon on their new home at Fort Lee Oct. 2. The big, grey and white-trimmed two-story house stands amid tall trees and well-manicured grass in the Jefferson Terrace neighborhood.
"It feels excellent to be here. We are blessed to be in this home," Uribe said after touring the newly built structure -- one of 34 added to Jefferson Terrace with a project cost of $15.7 million.
"I love the layout and it's big," the CWO said after touring the grand master bedroom. "We bought huge bedroom furniture when we were in Italy, and it will fit nicely in our bedroom here."
The family expressed equal excitement about getting out of the hotel where they have been living since their military move in July.
What new homes like the Uribe's represent is the joint commitment of the Army and HMC -- Fort Lee's privatized housing partner -- to provide service members and their families the best quality of life possible, with a renewed focus on immediately fixing any deficiencies that jeopardize life, health or safety. The new Jefferson Terrace dwellings replaced 1950s-era homes -- the last of the Fort Lee Family Housing inventory, which now has no structures built before 1997.
According to HMC Assistant Vice President Jason Frenz, the symbolic ribbon-cutting in front of the Uribe's home was the culmination of almost three years of preparation and construction. The process required mountains of proposals, drafted plans and approval paperwork, followed by the build that began in June 2018.
The new block of homes helps address the lack of officer housing at Fort Lee -- throughout the BRAC-era, circa 2005, housing renovation and construction efforts focused heavily on enlisted quarters, leading to wait lists for others coming to the base.
"These homes will help alleviate those wait times and allow officers to have a smoother transition to Fort Lee so they can focus on their mission instead of housing needs," Frenz said.
"Being able to live on base is great for military quality of life," emphasized Garrison Commander Col. Hollie Martin during the ceremony. "For example, you can use that commute time to spend extra time with the family. You're closer to amenities like the commissary and exchange. There are many benefits."
Understandably proud of the new inventory, Frenz said 778 of the 1,506 existing homes at Fort Lee were built through the Residential Communities Initiative partnership following its establishment in 2007.
"An RCI entity building 52 percent of the homes on an installation is an extremely high number, and a significant accomplishment," Frenz observed. "More importantly, though, it's great for our military residents here because they're getting newer, more efficient places to live."
Hunt's next endeavor is the renovation of Jackson Circle homes in a project planned to begin in 2020. The company has already secured funds to continue with renovations for the next five years and possibly beyond, Frenz noted.
Uribe said the long wait for his new home was definitely worth it. He signed the actual rental agreement in March and was told then the quarters wouldn't be available until this month, but he would be getting a brand-new house. He said he could wait. He and his family are glad they did.
"My initial reaction was, 'Wow,'" his wife Lupita said, describing the moment when she first walked through the front door and gaped at the high ceilings, pristine carpets, wood veneer floors and welcoming rooms. "It's very modern and beautiful. I did not expect it to be this beautiful."