By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff
FORT CARSON, Colo. — A groundbreaking ceremony took place Wednesday to begin demolition of existing homes in the Cherokee West Village neighborhood.
The Installation Management Command, commanding general, Fort Carson Army leaders and Balfour Beatty Communities leaders attended the ceremony.
Lt. Gen. Omar J. Jones IV, commanding general, IMCOM, explained that Army leaders have prioritized housing as part of their commitment to providing superior quality of life for Soldiers and their Families.
“Army Families do a lot for Soldiers and Army readiness, and our ability to invest in them and their quality of life is a critical piece of that,” Jones said. “It’s also critical to encourage folks to think about joining. When they see the quality of life, the housing that’s available to Soldiers — and they start making decisions about what they want to do with their future — hopefully, that quality of life is something that appeals to them and attracts them to raise their hand and join the Army.”
Col. Nate Springer, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson, plunged a back-hoe into the front yard of a legacy home near the corner of Aachen Drive and Harr Avenue, breaking the first ground on a project that will add 78 modern, three- and four-bedroom homes to the Mountain Post’s inventory.
“We have 72,000 Soldiers, Family members and Department of the Army civilians who work on Fort Carson and about a third of our Families live here,” Springer said. “We really owe our young Soldiers and Families the best home they could possibly live in. We’re really proud of Fort Carson being the “Best Hometown in the Army.” This is a great partnership between BBC and Fort Carson.”
The legacy homes, slated for demolition over the next few months in Cherokee West Village on the post’s side, were originally constructed between 1958 and 1963 and housed more than 57,000 Soldiers and Family members during the past 60 years.
“In my last two years as garrison commander, this has been the most important project to get across the starting line,” Springer said. “It’s going to impact so many Families. I always think about the young, 20-year-olds. This could be their first duty station and their first time in Colorado. We want them to have the best experience they can possibly have in the Army.”
During phase one of the project, which began Wednesday, construction crews will demolish 239 existing units in Cherokee West and add 78 new housing units, while phase two of the project will add an additional 161 units.
“I’m excited to know that when people drive down Highway 115, they are going to see the demolition project and know that we are taking action by rebuilding this neighborhood,” Springer said. “It felt good to start the destruction of the old neighborhood because we know we’re going to put in new beautiful, modern housing for our young Soldiers and Families.”
Phase one of the demolition project is planned to be completed by October, while demolition of the entire 239-unit neighborhood is slated to be complete in August 2023. Army and BBC leaders expect construction of the new units to be completed by 2025.
When completed, the new housing will offer military Families assigned to Fort Carson close access to on-post schools, shopping and other amenities.
Currently, Fort Carson has 3,207 livable housing units on post for Soldiers with Families, with a 92% occupancy rate. Leaders expect the post to have a total of 3,368 housing units on post once this latest project is complete.