By Mr. Kenneth Fidler (IMCOM)April 23, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Nearly 200 homes and 20 barracks have been renovated under a continuing garrison-wide program to upgrade housing facilities.
"In all areas, we're looking at renovating, upgrading and improving our quarters," said Carol Jones, housing division chief.
Yongsan has two types of housing, government and leased. Government-owned family housing and barracks are managed and maintained by housing and the Directorate of Public Works. Leased housing areas are maintained by a contract company, Korea National Housing Corp., which sub-contracts the Korea Housing Management and Maintenance company to maintain the buildings.
"If you look at our South Post leased housing areas - Eagle Grove, Itaewon Acres and Black Hawk Village - we're renovating all those buildings," Jones said.
Forty buildings that contain 300 homes are getting major facelifts. "These are complete renovations - gut the buildings, new piping, electrical upgrades, new kitchens, bathrooms, doors and closets," Jones said.
Government-owned homes are getting partial renovations with new entrance doors, new foyers and cabinets where possible. "We're also doing bathroom and kitchen replacements during change of occupancy or as requested by residents," Jones said.
The garrison has 260 government-owned homes and spends an average of $3 million a year in renovations and routine maintenance. "Many of these homes were built in the 1950s and have needed these welcome upgrades," Jones said.
At the same time, a few government-owned homes have been combined into five-bedroom homes to accommodate large families. Six have been finished since June.
Yongsan Garrison has had a shortage of quarters for large families, Jones said, and a five-bedroom home off post is too expensive. By converting a two-bedroom duplex into one five-bedroom home, these homes can accommodate a family with up to eight children.
At Hannam Village, the three leased vacant high-rise buildings are currently being looked at for possible renovation, as well, Jones said.
"We're currently talking with KNHC and KOHOM to see about the feasibility of this," she said. They have been vacant since August 2006. The six low-rise buildings at Hannam were renovated in 2002 under a project that combined two apartments into one, including new floors, air conditioners, kitchens and bathrooms.
For the garrison's 68 barracks, the majority on Camp Coiner and on Main Post, 20 have been completely renovated in the past 18 months, Jones said.
"We've created a neighborhood concept and consolidated some units that had Soldiers in barracks spread throughout the garrison," Jones explained. This means that Soldiers assigned to the same unit live in the same building, increasing unit integrity, she said.
"We have a very aggressive program," she said. "When we renovate a barracks, we also install brand new furniture, and that's a huge quality of life upgrade."
The barracks consolidation opened up buildings that can be renovated and used for more bachelor officer and bachelor enlisted quarters. The latest barracks project started Tuesday, April 22, with an $800,000 project under a Far East District Corps of Engineers contract to renovate an 80-person barracks at the Yongsan Transportation Motor Pool.
Jones said most of the renovation projects for the government-owned buildings have been funded locally. "We've gotten a lot of support from leadership to fund these projects," Jones said.
"The message here is we're still looking at ways to improve quality of life," Jones added. "Even though we know the time here at Yongsan is uncertain, we still plan on keeping our quarters in top-notch condition and finding ways to improve them."