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Plans to privatize Cannon housing delayed

Dec. 16, 2012 - 03:54PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 16, 2012 - 03:54PM  |  
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CLOVIS, N.M. A plan to privatize housing at Cannon Air Force Base will be delayed but officials expect the 50-year deal to update and add housing won't interfere with growth at the Clovis base.

Construction of 677 new homes and renovations on another 361 homes should begin next summer instead of next month, base spokesman Capt. Laurence van der Oord told the Clovis News Journal. The housing plan would also see 401 existing homes demolished.

Military and civilian staff at the base still should reach about 5,700 by October, Van der Oord said. Cannon has seen major growth since the 27th Special Operations Wing made the base its home in 2007.

Balfour Beatty Communities won a $470 million contract to build and renovate housing at six Midwest bases in 2011 and initially expected to begin the projects last July. But the developer said in June construction was on hold when negotiations with investors were delayed.

Tim Farmer, chief of asset optimization at Cannon, said housing privatization is finally making progress.

"New financial arrangements are being worked at the highest Air Force levels and the new estimated closing has not been set, but we are hopeful for the project to commence this summer," Farmer said.

The housing privatization project is a 50-year real estate contract between the Air Force and the Balfour Beatty Communities, according to Farmer.

Balfour Beatty will own, operate and maintain homes and amenities on leased government land. In addition to about 1,000 new or renovated homes, plans call for playgrounds, ball parks, a pool, trails and community centers.

Officials identify housing as the number one quality of life initiative in the Air Force. According to Farmer, the privatization of base housing is beneficial for Cannon.

"Privatization provides solutions to both short-term and long-term housing needs by bringing existing housing units to modern standards, reducing the time required to provide military members with quality, affordable housing, and replacing the Air Forces aging inventory," he said.

Farmer says dealing with the private sector is quite different than dealing with military construction but they're doing what they can in their power to expedite the process of construction.

"Unlike large Military Construction (MILCON) projects that are approved through the congressional channels, our project is held up by challenges within the private sector financial market," Farmer said.

The Defense Department recommended in 2005 that Cannon be closed, but instead it got new life as a special operations base.

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