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Forty, newly renovated military homes reopen at Fort Lee

Fort Lee, Virginia, celebrated the return of 40 newly renovated homes to its privatized family housing inventory on Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

A large crowd attended the ceremony, including Maj. Gen. Mark T. Simerly, Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee commanding general, Col. Karen L. Watson, garrison commander, Jason Frenz, Hunt Military Communities vice president of development and Nancy Goodman, Hunt Military Communities director of operations.

A two-year, $27 million effort to upgrade the oldest military family homes in Fort Lee to modern standards with upgraded amenities and reduced maintenance costs is nearing completion, according to Installation Housing Office Director Al Williams.

He encouraged the audience to “think about the significance” of the moment. “[It’s] fulfillment of the Army’s promise to provide a quality of life for service members and their families that is commensurate with their honorable and patriotic decision to serve in our U.S. Armed Forces,” he said.

As part of his remarks, Frenz provided a big-picture perspective on the HMC/Fort Lee partnership since 2007.

“In the first six years, we built 744 homes at Fort Lee,” he shared. “In 2018, we started the Jefferson Terrace project where we [replaced] 34 homes built in the 1950s. … We then moved on to Jackson Circle and its 174 renovations which we concluded late last year. … Those homes were built in the mid-to-late ‘90s. Now we stand here in Harrison Villa with 270 homes we started renovating back in March.”

In a six-year period, he summarized, 444 renovations and 34 new homes were completed at a cost of over $60 million.

“That’s remarkable and it speaks volumes about the great partnership Hunt has with Fort Lee,” Frenz said. “I’ve been in the military housing business for 15 years and have dealt with 20 different installations [and all services]. Bar none, this truly is the best partnership I’ve experienced. It’s how you get $60 million dollars worth of work done over a five-to-six-year period. That’s how you have no houses older than 2002 in this community that have not been renovated. That’s where we stand today.”

Watson also discussed the partnership, saying it kept Fort Lee out of the spotlight during the military housing crisis a few years ago.

“It’s not just the renovations,” she commented. “That’s great of course; they’re getting after it and making sure the homes are new and modern. Beyond that, it’s the maintenance, the work orders, the customer service, the treatment that our residents get. It’s just been phenomenal.”

As part of the Jackson Circle Walking Town Hall conducted on July 7, residents voiced concerns about recently announced security gate changes but had no complaints regarding their homes, according to the colonel.

“It reflects the fantastic work that has been done by the Hunt team for our communities, and I know we’re going to see the same thing when we look inside this home,” Watson said. “It comes down to what our Soldiers and their families will be living in and improving their quality of life. I’m glad we're able to commemorate this and not just have folks move in without taking the time to recognize what has been done. These moments allow us to recognize the great work and the great partnerships we have here on Fort Lee.”

According to the commanding general, the moment was significant from the perspective of "People First" and Army Readiness. Sustainment Center of Excellence's top priority is serving military members and families. A key goal of Fort Lee is to be the "assignment of choice" for military personnel in terms of housing and quality of life.

“I’m looking forward to hearing from the first family that moves into these quarters,” Simerly said. “I’m sure it’s going to be very positive because what we’re witnessing is really a great news story overall, and it is just one chapter in the great story of Fort Lee. This is part of change. This is part of progress. This is part of moving forward here in the community. I’m proud to say I’m a Fort Lee resident and a customer of Fort Lee Family Housing.”

After the ribbon-cutting, the dignitaries inspected the completed work inside the house. Hunt's senior project manager Matt Forney, who briefed the command team on the new flooring, noted that the dark wood finish will be easy to clean. The living room and kitchen were opened up by removing a wall. In addition to replacing appliances and cupboards, all bathrooms have been renovated. “Behind the scenes” upgrades outlined by Forney include a complete cleaning of all ductwork.

Next year will see the continuation of the Harrison Villa project. As many as 40 individuals can simultaneously work on a home at a time, according to a supervisor with Paragon Construction, the company doing the work.
Matt Forney from Hunt Military Communities – an Army privatized military housing contractor – provides details about the ongoing renovation work in the Harrison Villa neighborhood at Fort Lee, Va. Senior leaders participated in a ribbon cutting July 15 that marked the phase one completion of the project and the return of 40 homes to the installation’s military housing inventory.
The Harrison Villa neighborhood at Fort Lee, Va., continues to undergo renovations thanks to Hunt Military Communities - an Army privatized military housing contractor. Phase one of the project was completed with a ribbon cutting and 40 homes were added to the installation's housing inventory. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick Buffett)

Major General Mark T. Simerly, commanding general of CASCOM and Fort Lee, and Jason Frenz, vice president of Hunt Military Communities, officially opened Harrison Villa's newly renovated quarters. Among the redesigned features are an open concept living area, dark wood vinyl flooring, and a remodeled kitchen and bathroom.
A newly renovated Harrison Villa was officially opened on July 15 by Major General Mark T. Simerly, commanding general of CASCOM and Fort Lee, and Jason Frenz, executive vice president of Hunt Military Communities. In addition to the redesigned living area, the kitchen and bathroom have been renovated and are equipped with dark wood vinyl flooring. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick Buffett)