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RCI Officially Underway

Ceremony marks start of new housing at Ft. Belvoir.

Residents of Fort Belvoir have officially entered the world of community living. More than two years after the initial call for proposals, groundbreaking ceremonies took place last week for the base's Residential Communities Initiative (RCI).

Upon completion of the eight year project, 170 historic homes will be renovated and 1,600 homes will be demolished and replaced with new private stylized residences clustered in town center configurations. It also marks the physical initiation of a new military/private construction and management partnership.

Clarke Pinnacle Family Communities, LLC, the successful bidder for the project will mange a total of 2,070 homes on post upon completion, according to officials. Belvoir is the ninth installation nationwide to host a groundbreaking ceremony under the RCI concept.

"Belvoir is also one of seven installations nationwide developing privatization plans under the Community Development Management Plan," said Ivan Bolden, program/policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army.

Base residents came together with local officials to begin work on Henry Ford Village, the first of 12 "villages" to be developed under a joint agreement between the Department of the Army, Fort Belvoir and Clarke Pinnacle. The first new home are scheduled for occupancy in March 2005.

"I like the idea of privatization. It coincides with the wave of the future," said Captain Adrienne Slaughter-Melvin, an Army reservist who has lived on post for almost two months. Attending the ceremony, she was curious about the various floor plans being offered.

"This is the first step to eliminate inadequate housing, especially for our junior enlisted troops," Geoffrey G. Porsch, assistant secretary of the army for installations and environment, told the audience at Specker Field House last Wednesday.

"We mark the beginning of new homes for soldiers, homes that will afford them a quality of life at least as good as that enjoyed by those they defend," said Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander, Col. Thomas W. Williams.

"I can think of no better way to celebrate the Army Soldier," Porsch said. "The Residential Communities Initiative is the best quality-of-life program I have ever seen."

A PRIVATE SECTOR partner brings more money to manage Army housing and more expertise, according to Porsch. Residents will see more than $700 million of housing development by the completion of RCI.

Plans call for new homes to be 20 percent larger than present residences. Each home will have a two car garage, high speed internet, cable television/telephone services, and a host of other amenities.

Clarke Pinnacle is a joint venture between Clarke Realty Capital, Bethesda, Md., and Pinnacle of Seattle. Clarke Realty will manage the design, development, construction and asset management for Fort Belvoir. Property management services will be provided by Pinnacle.

Designed by award-winning architect Torti Gallas and Partners, homes will be two and three stories in a traditional colonial-style. Three bedroom homes will average 1,800 square feet and offer an array of floor plans.

The neo-traditional communities will offer pedestrian walkways, five community centers, a state-of-the-art community reception center and numerous children play areas, according to the developers. There will be some small swimming pools within the clusters plus a large community pool.