FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Fort Leonard Wood officials anticipate a November ribbon cutting for delivery of up to 20 homes to replace those destroyed in the EF-3 tornado that struck the installation New Year's Eve day 2010. This will represent the first phase of a multiphased project which is expected to be completed by May 2013. At the end of the project, a total of 160 new duplex homes are scheduled to be constructed.

Installation leadership and Balfour Beatty Communities officials chose to develop in the Woodlands neighborhood over rebuilding so soon in the Piney Hills location where the tornado occurred.

One of the significant features of the new homes is that each unit will have a tornado safe room.

"The safe room meets the requirements of the FEMA standards for a safe room which means it will withstand a 250 mile per hour, three-second burst of wind, and withstand an impact of a 15 pound, two-by-four piece of wood moving at 100 miles per hour horizontally," Richard Cole, Balfour Beatty Communities project director said. "An EF-3 tornado has winds up to 165 miles per hour and that's essentially what blew through the Piney Hills neighborhood."

The new units offer families another big perk--and that's storage space.

"One of the biggest complaints we had on the older housing was that there just was not enough storage," Alice Bischoff, Housing Division chief said.

The homes destroyed in the New Year's Eve day tornado were an average of about 980 to about 1,150 square feet.

"All of these replacement homes that we're building come in at an average square footage of about 1,840 square feet," Cole said. "As a young captain with a wife and two kids, I lived in one of those homes that was 980 square feet and if I were a captain today coming into a 1,840 square foot home--I would be very happy. It's one of those incentives to stay in the Army because if your family's happy, then it makes it easier for you to stay on active duty and continue doing the things the Army asks you to do."

Functionality and space are a theme throughout the homes that are being built in three and four bedroom units and include two and one-half baths and a two-car garage to meet the Army's Residential Communities Initiative standards. There's even a spot in the garage designed to store the garbage container without interfering with parking vehicles.

Construction of 70 new duplex units on Frizell Street will be designated for company-grade officers; and 90 duplex units on Epps Street will house junior-enlisted Soldiers, primarily E1 to E4.

The construction project totaling $31.5 million is being paid for through a combination of Army equity, contributing equity of Balfour Beatty Communities and insurance proceeds from the destroyed homes.