Academy, partners committed to quality housing

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Housing privatization is an Air Force-wide effort that will significantly change the way we build, manage and fund our housing communities. Housing privatization brings several very good things to the table, including new houses and renovations to existing homes, that we could not otherwise have afforded as a military service without our corporate partners.

At the Air Force Academy, we partnered with Hunt Construction to build and remodel our homes and with ForestCity Residential Management to manage day-to-day housing operations, who lives in our on-base communities and housing maintenance.

While these new relationships experienced some growing pains, we have matured in our relationship with our partners and are moving forward to provide unsurpassed customer service to our entire Academy family. We also provide some of the best homes on any U.S. military installation worldwide.

The partnership of the 10th Air Base Wing, Hunt Construction and ForestCity Residential Management are committed to one another and to the families who live in our homes. It is a strong partnership, and we will continue to improve our community and set the highest standards for our residents and ourselves.

As far as new and renovated homes are concerned, old homes are being torn down and new ones constructed in their place across the Air Force. These houses represent a significant investment for the contractors building them, the residential management firms overseeing the communities and the Air Force. At the Academy, we have torn down 262 homes to date and have 549 more scheduled for demolition in the next three years, concluding with all the homes in Pine Valley being demolished by the end of Fiscal Year 2013. We have built 34 new homes and remodeled 300 homes, all in Douglass Valley. Also turned over to the ForestCity residential management team were 92 military construction homes built in 2004.

The monetary investment at the Academy alone is $91 million over the life of the 50-year project. This is money that the Air Force and the United States as a whole did not have to spend, which allowed us to spend dollars elsewhere to improve dormitories, child-care centers and numerous other family-oriented activities.

When housing construction is complete in late Fiscal Year 2013, we will have 427 homes remaining, all of them new or renovated. Our community will also expand in its cultural diversity, as the Academy will become home to Army, Navy and Marine Corps families and expand to Department of Defense civilians, contractors and even a small number of military retirees and civilians.

Although we have new homes and a changing community culture, the standards we expect in our communities has not changed. We will continue to expect Air Force housing residents to maintain their houses, yards and common areas to a standard that makes the Air Force proud and sets an example for all who come onto our installation.

The Air Force Academy, as a national historic treasure, sets an even higher standard: this is a one-of-a-kind installation, and both our leadership and ForestCity want to show our families and visitors that we have great housing that conforms to the highest standards.

Our expectations for Academy housing residents are no different than those of any upscale neighborhood in Colorado Springs or any city in America. We expect houses to be well-maintained, inside and out. We expect yards to be clean. We expect pets to be leashed and taken care of. In short, we expect the outstanding appearance for which the Air Force Academy is known, and we will continue to uphold that high standard in our community.