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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Private company to run base housing

Fairchild Air Force Base is out of the family-housing business.

Balfour Beatty Communities, based in Newtown Square, Pa., last month finalized an agreement with the government to own and manage the 1,053 family homes on the base as part of a congressionally authorized privatization of housing at Fairchild and two other air bases.

Over the next seven years, Balfour Beatty will demolish 387 of those homes, construct 81 new ones and perform 154 major renovations.

When the dust clears, there will be 641 homes on base – the number the Air Force predicts will be necessary to fill the gap between demand and area supply, said Myrl Briggs, Fairchild’s housing privatization project manager.

“We are not a rental agency. We’re a war-fighting machine,” Briggs said. “And that’s what we’re good at. We’re not necessarily good at maintaining housing because of the way that congressional funding strategies work.

“In the long run, it will get them better housing faster.”

Balfour Beatty will establish a support system for families of airmen deployed overseas, and it will add recreational opportunities such as sport courts and a community building, said Ron Nestor, senior vice president for Balfour Beatty’s Air Force portfolio.

“We actually have to compete with market-rate homes and apartments,” he said. “We have to give them as (many) amenities and as nice of a place, if not better, than they can get on the outside.”

Balfour Beatty’s 50-year management contract with the Air Force also covers Travis Air Force Base, near Fairfield, Calif., and Tinker Air Force Base, near Oklahoma City, for a total of 2,435 housing units.

The company expects the work to cost more than $410 million.

A majority of the houses at Fairchild were torn down to their foundations and rebuilt in the early 1990s, Briggs said. About 250 other “Capehart-style” homes built around 1960 have remained mostly untouched, he said.

“They’re not all in great shape right now, let’s put it that way,” Nestor said.

About 720 families live on base, and they will be able to apply a monthly housing stipend toward the private housing, Briggs said.

The military still will offer barracks for single personnel.