Air Force, Corvias work as partners to bring positive change to the Continental Group
In September 2013, Corvias Military Living assumed responsibility for the development and management of on-base housing for the U.S. Air Force’s Continental Group, some of the last Air Force bases to be privatized under the military housing privatization initiative (MHPI). Air Force families living at these installations are now beginning to enjoy an increased quality of life as construction progresses with the recent delivery of new homes, community centers and other amenities that are enhancing the on-base living experience. The Continental Group is comprised of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.; Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; Hurlburt Field, Fla; McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.; and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. The Air Force selected Corvias Military Living through a competitive solicitation procedure headed by the Air Force Civil Engineering Center (AFCEC). Under the terms of the partnership, the Air Force leased approximately 2,425 acres on six bases to Corvias as part of a 50-year, $725 million deal to improve on-base housing. Over the course of the agreement, Corvias is financing, planning, designing, building, renovating, managing and maintaining at least 4,040 homes on the six Air Force bases. During the initial development period (IDP), Corvias will construct 1,308 new homes, renovate 1,077 homes, and build six community centers with a total development budget of $453 million.Planning for the Future The partnership started off strong as the team increased occupancy to put the project in a stable financial position. At transfer, occupancy for the portfolio rested at 89.2 percent. Within the first year of operations, occupancy rose to 94 percent and has currently settled at 96 percent. A large part of this increase was attributed to the focus on providing great customer service to the Airmen and their families, the ability to perform 24/7 emergency maintenance and by working with the installation teams to expand eligibility where necessary. “Our goal from transition was to improve the quality of life for the service members and their families,” said Heath Burleson, senior vice president for Corvias Military Living. “The Air Force, as was the case with all branches of the military, was dealing with budget constrains due to sequestration. We were able to come in on day one and help them to overcome those financial challenges.” During the same period, the Corvias construction team worked with AFCEC and wing leadership at each base to create and approve designs for the housing communities. With some of the bases located in different regions of the country, the designs were tailored to meet the needs of each installation. The partnership also looked at the existing housing inventories and the disparity in the quality of housing between the locations. Edwards AFB, Eielson AFB and Seymour Johnson AFB had relatively new housing while Eglin AFB, McConnell AFB and Hurlburt Field needed immediate and extensive work as the majority of the housing was built between 1950 and 1970. These installations received more immediate improvements during the IDP, whereas the other bases will receive more extensive improvements in the out-year development plan. Building Improved Quality of Life Construction progress for the program began in June 2014, with a groundbreaking ceremony at Hurlburt Field on the new Osprey Landing neighborhood. In September 2015, the first residents moved into the new homes, the first to be delivered in the Continental Group under MHPI. “Our partnership with Corvias Military Living allows us to modernize and sustain our installation while taking best care of our families,” said Col. Sean M. Farrell, commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing. All of the homes constructed at Hurlburt Field and the Continental Group locations will exceed the Air Force benchmarks for square footage. The smallest homes are approximately 1,600 square feet for junior enlisted families and the largest homes, for general officers, will be nearly 4,000 square feet. All homes feature two-car garages, modern appliances and are energy efficient. Corvias completed the first phase of construction at Hurlburt in early 2016, delivering 145 new homes in two neighborhoods. The end state calls for 404 new homes and the completion of a community center with swimming pool. Corvias will also build new outdoor amenities to include a dog park, walking trails and playgrounds with pavilions throughout the communities. McConnell Air Force Base was the second installation to receive new homes. They broke ground in March of last year, and delivered the first new homes in December 2015. The first residents moved in just in time for the holidays and were treated to a special welcome surprise as each home was decorated with a Christmas tree and wreath. Although McConnell families began moving into new homes in December, they had been enjoying the benefits of construction since 2014 with the start of their renovation program. Currently, the team has completed 76 of 207 scheduled renovations. The renovated homes have similar features as the new homes, to include added square footage and upgraded finishes. McConnell residents will also enjoy several new amenities including a bark park, walking trails and community parks as well as a state-of-the-art community center featuring a swimming pool, gym, fitness center with children’s play area, game room and space for gatherings with a kitchen, a computer lab and a club room. Construction for the Continental Group continued as the team at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base broke ground on their new community center in early April 2016. Upon completion, the spacious 10,910-square-foot community center will include exciting features for Seymour Johnson residents, including an indoor fitness center and gym, a game room, teen room, toddler play room and a multi-purpose room. In addition, the center will be rich with amenities including an outdoor pool, sport court, volleyball court and two age-specific playgrounds. The project also includes a 4,507-square-foot annex building and a 1,568-square-foot youth center. “We are truly blessed to be getting this community center,” said Col. Andrew Bernard, vice commander of the 4th Fighter Wing. “When we send our Airmen throughout the world, we need a place and a community where the families can be safe and we need a place where they connect with one another to navigate through the difficult times and we have that here.” In addition to the state-of-the-art community center, Corvias will renovate 336 homes on Seymour Johnson before the end of this year. The neighborhoods will also receive community improvements like bus stop shelters, playgrounds and new fencing for several homes. At Edwards Air Force Base, the Mojave Sky Community Center opened in April 2016. The LEED-certifiable, 4.5-acre facility was inspired by Spanish architecture and includes an Olympic-sized swimming pool, indoor and outdoor lounge areas, half-court gymnasium, an 852-square-foot state-of-the-art workout facility, children’s activity area, and a 1,047-square-foot multipurpose room complete with full kitchen and multimedia center. “This community center is contributing to our mission,” said Col. David Radomski, vice commander of the 412th Test Wing. “It’s taking care of our Airmen and ensures they can concentrate on their jobs and contribute to the air power of the United States and the free world.” Renovations to 522 homes on Edwards Air Force Base are also scheduled for completion later this year and will include new flooring and finishes and in some cases expanded two-car garages. The most recent milestone for the Continental Group was realized in May 2016 with the grand opening of the Warrior Landing Community Center and first new homes in the Warrior Landing neighborhood at Eglin Air Force Base. The expansive 12,000-square-foot facility features a club room, fitness center, children’s play area, indoor gym, yoga studio, outdoor entertainment area with a kitchen and swimming pool, tennis courts, outdoor basketball court and volleyball court. “Quality of life for our members and their families has just improved exponentially thanks to the Team Eglin members who worked so diligently for so long and to our privatization partner, Corvias Military Living,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Azzano, 96th Test Wing commander. “Providing quality, comfortable and safe homes, as well as a community atmosphere, helps promote a sense of wellbeing for our Airmen and their families.” The Eglin project will consist of 747 new homes. Existing housing, with the exception of 126 homes in the Hidden Oaks community that were built in the early 2000’s, will be demolished. All base housing will be within the main base cantonment area making it more convenient for the residents, which does not exist today. Development for the Continental Group will continue through the remainder of the IDP with the Seymour Johnson Community Center scheduled to open in 2017 and the design for a new community center at Eielson Air Force Base underway. The Eielson Air Force Base families also received a new bark park in 2015 and several older homes were demolished to make room for the community center. The new amenities and homes being delivered to the Air Force are significantly improving the quality of life for the service members and their families living on base. As the partnership with the Air Force progresses through the remaining 47 years, Corvias is continuing to look for new and innovative ways to support our partner with any challenges they may face through an ever changing climate.