October 30, 2008 in Voices

Houses begin new life

Residents move into ex-Fairchild homes
Jeslyn Lemke Correspondent
 
Dan Pelle photo

Brian Feldhusen and Rita Hollis unroll a rug in the model home at Windsor Crossing. There are 226 former military homes being refurbished on the Geiger Heights site.
(Full-size photo)

A long-vacated lot of military housing saw the first of a stream of residents move in earlier this month after Fairchild Air Force Base sold the old Geiger Heights Housing area to a private developer in August.

Located at the intersection of South Grove and West Hallett roads, the renamed Windsor Crossing lot of 226 single-family and duplex homes is being rented for $575 to $900 per unit.

The new owner, Greenstone Homes, held an open house to give prospective customers a tour of the pine-tree shaded complex, which sits across from Windsor Elementary School.

“At this point, it’s a pretty diverse group of individuals interested in the property,” said Tisha Thelen, vice president of multifamily development for Greenstone.

Eastern Washington University students, families, empty-nesters, and even people who used to live there have dropped by.

The standard home to be rented is a three-bedroom, one bathroom, attached home for $700 a month. The homes will be rented for the next four years, and then Greenstone may put some up for sale, Thelen said.

The property is valued at $15 million after acquisition and rehabilitation costs, she said.

Fairchild used the lot for military housing since the 1960s. The last tenants left in 2004, said Myrl Briggs, housing privatization project manager for Fairchild.

“We started moving people out of there because it just wasn’t in demand,” Briggs said. At the time, the base had 1,397 housing units, and the extra housing in Geiger was needed less and less.

The base decided to not sell the lot back to the military because the money would have gone straight back to Washington, D.C., military headquarters. They instead sold it to a private developer, letting Fairchild keep the money, Briggs said.

With the housing development virtually abandoned for four years, time has taken its toll. The houses lie beneath a towering forest of pine trees, many of which became sickly from pine beetle infestations.

The developer cut down about 400 big pine trees, making large piles of lumber along the Grove Road side of the complex.

Greenstone also had to replace many household appliances, such as refrigerators, and bring a lot of aging or damaged plumbing up to standards.

“For the most part though, the houses are in good condition. But when a house has been sitting for four years, there’s some work that’s got to be done,” Thelen said.

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