CHIAfE+VRES, Belgium - After years of planning, permitting and construction, the Attre built-to-lease houses are finally becoming homes. The first U.S. Army Garrison Benelux families started moving in Aug. 19.

Sgt. Timothy Strick was the first USAG Benelux Soldier to move. He toured his new home the same day he signed for his keys and accepted the living quarters.

For the last year, Strick and his wife, Robyn have called Green Park home. The homes in Green Park are now being divested of American tenants and turned back over to the Belgian owners. Families from Green Park are being relocated to other housing areas or leased houses on the economy.

Strick said he was impressed by the size of the home and the fact that it's brand new, but as a former tenant of Green Park housing, he was also pleased with the small additions or changes between Attre and Green Park.

"It looks like they were thinking ahead about the Soldiers and their families. Things that were problems in the other house look like they've been fixed," he said.

Strick's wife, Robyn, said she was excited about something that might seem small to people who don't move from one family housing unit to another every few years.

"It's really nice that the floors and the walls aren't white. I've never seen that in military housing," she said with a laugh. She added that another welcome upgrade for her is the American-sized appliances. In the new homes the washer, dryer, fridge and oven are all larger than the standard European size.

"Now our oven is big enough to cook a turkey in without having to fold the pan around it and be ready with more pans for when it overflows," she added.

Her husband said that one of the most welcome updates for him is the garage attached to the house, which will not only protect their car from the elements but will also give him and his wife a sense of security.

Strick said the location is also a big improvement. Because he works on ChiAfA..vres, his daily commute has been cut to a fraction of the time it took from Green Park.

"Now we're so much closer to the stores and my job. I might get a bike for when the weather's nice" he said.

Strick said it's nice to see the Army focusing on family housing with increased zeal.

"I think it's a good thing. Sometimes it seemed like the Single Soldier Quarters at different posts all got upgrades and new buildings over the last few years and the family housing lagged behind some, but it looks like that is turning around," he said.

The housing in Attre will eventually include houses for 20 families. The homes are a mixture of three and four-bedroom models as well as duplex and single family dwellings. Families will continue moving into the homes as they are completed over the next few months.