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Fort Belvoir Announces Award of New Housing Contract

Clarke Pinnacle Family Communities, LLC, has been selected as the developer of the Fort Belvoir family housing privatization project known as Residential Communities Initiative (RCI).

Based in Bethesda, Md., Clarke Pinnacle will commit an estimated $628 million for construction and renovation of the family communities at Fort Belvoir, according to the post's public information office. The project is valued at approximately $2 billion over its projected 50-year life span.

The Army and Clarke Pinnacle will now begin to develop a Community Development and Management Plan (CDMP), which will be the blueprint for the new residential community, according to the announcement.

The first phase will take seven years and result in the construction of 2,890 homes. Of this total, 1,892 will be replacements and 998 will be new additions to the base's housing inventory. There will also be renovation and restoration of 178 historic homes.

The project also calls for six new neighborhood centers, one new community recreation center, a new clubhouse, and a pool. More than 2,000 uniformed service personnel will benefit from the RCI effort.

"We are tremendously excited about RCI and partnering with Clarke Pinnacle," said garrison commander Col. T.W. Williams. "Through this partnership our soldiers and their families will have safe, attractive, affordable housing and modern communities.

"This is a commitment the Army has made to its soldiers to afford them the same quality of life as those they are sworn to defend. Now, we will see this become a reality at Fort Belvoir."

UNDER THE RCI concept, Clarke Pinnacle will develop, redevelop, construct, own, manage and maintain the housing units; maintain the grounds of unoccupied units and public areas; construct and maintain roads and infrastructure in associated areas; and reinvest profits for future renovations and replacements.

"The Fort Belvoir project will bring military family housing into the 21st century," said George Barbee, RCI project manager. "The Army's focus is to improve the quality of life for service members and their families." Estimated start of the actual groundbreaking is late summer of 2003.

There will be no out-of-pocket expenses to the residents, according to the plan. Uniformed service personnel who live on the post will receive basic housing allowance. They will use that to pay the developer. Such allowances are based on family size, military rank and geographic location. It covers all costs to the developer including debt service. Soldiers never pay higher costs than their authorized allowance.

"We anticipate eventually replacing all of Fort Belvoir's existing family housing, with the exception of those homes deemed historic," Barbee said.

PLANNING FOR THE RCI project will follow traditional community land-use concepts, according to Army spokespersons. It will contain single-family, detached homes designed to complement the installation's historic architecture. They will be grouped around village greens.

To oversee the project, an RCI corporate board has been formed at Fort Belvoir. It is chaired by Williams and composed of members from the garrison staff and RCI officials. There is also a Resident Advisory Committee, which assists in the support and promotion of the project. Members of the committee are volunteers who represent the interest of service personnel and their families.

Fort Belvoir is the eighth RCI CDMP contract to be awarded since the nationwide program was initiated in 1999.

According to the announcement naming Clarke Pinnacle, "The Army has inadequate housing conditions at most of its posts. It would take a $6 billion revitalization requirement and many years to alleviate the conditions under existing procedures ... privatizing family housing under RCI is an essential element in solving the Army's acute family housing challenges."

Last January, 34 developers were invited to the base to be briefed on the Belvoir project. Following that, a request for proposals was released. Six returned to make final submissions. Clarke Pinnacle was on that short list.

THE DEVELOPER WILL own the homes and rent them to base personnel. The military will maintain ownership of the land. The legislation that created RCI does authorize some guarantees for the developer in case of base closing or other factors, according to Barbee.

In addition to the RCI project, there is ongoing upgrading of base housing. It is composed of a three-phase renovation project that commenced in the mid-1990s, according to Marcia Kline, chief, information strategies, in the base's Public Affairs Office.

These projects operate under different contractors, she clarified. "The Dogue Creek Village area is now completing Phase III," Kline said. It is a $14.6 million project to renovate existing junior enlisted quarters.

"Even though these properties are being renovated, they will still be part of the RCI. But they will probably be near the end of that effort," Kline clarified.

"Fort Belvoir is a great place to live, work and play," Barbee emphasized. "RCI, done properly, will increase that quality of life."