Base Housing Project to Benefit Local Business - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/23/03

Base Housing Project to Benefit Local Business

Military family life is tough, even when the troops aren't on deployment. Base housing sometimes contributes to the difficulties. But there's help on the way. Parris Island, the Beaufort Naval Hospital and the Marine Corps Air Station are all getting new housing facilities. That means a lot of Low Country businesses will be lending a hand.

There will be 300 demolitions, 500 new buildings, more than a thousand renovations, and just four years to get it all done. And people in the area can't wait to get started. Project managers for the new military housing initiative in Beaufort met with small businesses Thursday to talk about how they can get a piece of that huge pie. Officials are hoping 65 percent of all the budget will go to local subcontractors.

The project includes several hundred duplex units, and when they're all added together, that means $90 million spent locally, and they'll need close to 100 different businesses to accomplish that.

"I would certainly hope to be involved all the way through," said Mary Ann Welliver of Landcare South. "I imagine there will probably be so many projects going on they'll have to break it up."

This isn't just a construction job. Project managers are responsible for the new military housing setup for the next 50 years, so they're trying to recruit businesses for the long haul.

"Obviously there's a great incentive for us to make these houses as energy efficient, as maintenance efficient, and as easy to live in as they can be," said Justin Woodcock of Actus Lend and Lease.

Project organizers say they're concerned, but not worried, about the possibility of one or more local bases closing in the near future. They say they have options if that happens.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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