First new family housing ready
By , Air Force Center for Engineering Excellence and 81st Civil Engineer Squadron
/ Published March 11, 2008
KEESLER AFB, MISS -- After nearly a year under construction, the first 36 units of the Thrower Park housing area are being turned over to Keesler.
They represent the initial group of more than 1,000 military family housing units being built under a $287.4 million contract to replace homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
"Once completed in July 2008, the Thrower Park site will add 198 much-needed junior NCO family units to the inventory," said Col. Rod Croslen, 81st Mission Support Group commander.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate the first new units is scheduled for March 20, with participation expected by congressional, Air Education and Training Command and senior Pentagon officials.
Parking March 20 is in Hiller Park. The next two construction sites, West Falcon and Shadowlawn-Maltby Hall, include 136 noncommissioned officer and 200 mixed use units, respectively. A second phase at the Falcon site adds 364 more NCO units, expected to be completed in 2009.
The most complex of the sites, Bay Ridge, delivers 130 senior NCO and senior officer units, to be finished in early 2010. The Keesler project is considered the largest of its kind in Air Force history. Once the project is complete, Keesler will be the proud owner of the newest -- and among the best -- housing in the Air Force," said Colonel Croslen.
Richard Fry, project manager, said the Air Force Center for Engineering Excellence incorporated industry-wide construction practices used in commercial housing developments to rebuild the entire Keesler housing inventory, including roads, utilities and amenities.
Bob Moore, Air Force deputy chief of asset management and operations, noted the way the project has been managed is becoming known as the "Keesler Model," which he believes sets the standard for acquisition of all future military construction projects.
After the design concept was complete, AFCEE contractors were asked in an open forum to review all the preliminary work done to date and come up with innovative ideas for the massive project.
"The exchange was outstanding and in a matter of weeks a request for proposal was released, allowing the interested contractors to create their own solutions to a constrained construction schedule, and encouraging them to propose enhancements commonly used in commercial housing," said Mr. Fry.
As a result, AFCEE was able to reduce the acquisition time, and the project is on schedule and on budget. Hunt Building Construction of El Paso, Texas, was awarded the contract to rebuild all Keesler military family housing in a five-site, 43-month effort. Hunt-Yates is doing the demolition, site preparation and utility work at all the sites.
"This has to be one of the most exciting and challenging projects an Air Force project manager could be a part of -- we are shaping the way of the future," Mr. Fry concluded.