Army breaks ground on first privatized apartments for junior enlisted

Privately developed $72M complex boasts 432 apartments for 1,400 troops

Army breaks ground on first privatized apartments for junior enlisted

Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Environment and Energy (3rd from left) joins members of the Fort Meade garrison, Corps of Engineers, Picerne Military Housing and other dignitaries in breaking ground Feb. 20, 2013, for privatized apartments on Fort Meade, Md., to house unaccompanied junior-enlisted service members. (Fort Meade Public Affairs)

By  J.D. Leipold 
Army News Service

FORT MEADE, Md. — Officials broke ground last week at the construction site of Reece Crossings, the Army's first on-post, garden-style apartment complex for unaccompanied junior-enlisted service members.

The privately developed $72-million housing complex at Fort Meade will be made up of some 432 apartments to house 1,400 troops in grades E-1 through E-4. The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen will live in both one-bedroom apartments with a den, totaling 1,126 square feet, and two-bedroom units measuring 1,186 square feet.

Keynote speaker at the groundbreaking, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy & Environment) Katherine Hammack, said privatized housing has been a success for families on military installations. She said privatized housing for unaccompanied noncommissioned officers, or NCOs, and senior service members has been a success at five installations. She stressed, though, that the project at Fort Meade is a first under the Army's privatized housing partnerships.

"This is our first effort into junior-enlisted housing," Hammack said. "We're going to take a look at it, see how it works and then evaluate where it could add future benefit to the Army on other posts."

According to Picerne Military Housing, which inked the deal with Fort Meade in December, each pre-furnished unit in the 14-building apartment community will feature a large kitchen with breakfast bar, full-size appliances, living room and laundry room with washer-dryer. The complex will also include community spaces, such as a 6,233-square-foot clubhouse with a resort-style lap pool, along with outdoor grilling and picnic pavilions.

Hammack praised Picerne and Fort Meade for meeting the growth challenges of the installation head on and for addressing the needs and wants of the hundreds of junior service members who have often been forced to live well beyond the post's gates to afford housing.

She also cited the success of the Residential Communities Initiative process which has enabled the Army to reinvest and revitalize Army housing "at very little cost to the taxpayer," adding that, "the housing privatization projects that have come before this one have demonstrated that the RCI program is a success.

With sequestration and massive budget cuts looming, Hammack said, partnerships like what the Army has with Picerne will become much more critical in the future as the services become more dependent upon the private sector and the communities in which the military has bases.

Other speakers at the ground-breaking included Fort Meade garrison commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein; Corvias Group CEO John Picerne; and Picerne Military Housing program manager Greg Cannito.

Picerne said it will open its leasing office at Reece Crossings this week and expects to complete the clubhouse this year. Picerne Military Housing expects completion of its first group of apartments by December with full completion of the entire project by 2016.