By MAUREEN ROSE
Gold Standard Acting Editor
Major changes in an organization the size of the Army set off domino effects. At Fort Knox, the pending inactivation of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division will play a major part for the housing sector.
According to Peter Ross, project director for Lend Lease, the privatized company and partner of the Army that manages housing on Fort Knox, the inactivation will cause a loss of more than 1,000 residents at Knox Hills. There are currently 2,200 homes occupied on the installation, so the 1,000 drop is nearly a 50 percent decrease.
This Department of the Army decision has caused housing managers like Knox Hills to open its doors to a wider range of military Family members, such as unaccompanied Soldiers, retirees and full-time Department of Defense civilians in an effort to offset the loss of residents and income.
“Soldiers are always our first priority,” said Ross, “but the drawdown is directing this. About 30 other installations have also found themselves in this position recently. Each has made the decision to offer housing to other groups of the military family.”
The housing that is being offered to the new group of tenants will be limited to approximately 20 percent to ensure on-post housing is readily available to Soldiers and their Families.
“Some housing will always be retained for the current rank structures,” said Sharon Vanderhoof, the marketing manager for Knox Hills.
With that guideline, several neighborhoods will now be offered to military retirees and DoD civilians, including Pressler Grove, Chestnut Glen, Johnson, Littlefield Loop, Custer/ Farragut, Morand Manor and North Dietz. All newly built homes and other neighborhoods not listed will continue to be reserved for active duty Soldiers.
The Army’s drawdown planning has also prompted Knox Hills to rethink its construction blueprint. While final decisions haven’t been made, the 280 houses that were scheduled for construction, as well as some renovations, may be put on hold.
Military installations across the nation, as well as many overseas, have been incorporating these wider categories for some time with few problems. In Europe, it’s now routine for DoD civilians to live in government housing, explained Ross.
The presence of civilian employees or retirees has brought a sense of permanence to many military communities and enhances the quality of life, said Sherry Silva, property management for Knox Hills. Without these additional populations, some housing areas on post may end up looking like ghost towns if vacancy rates approach the expected 50 percent mark (or more) when the 3/1 disbands.
To ensure Fort Knox remains a vibrant community after the 3/1 leaves, Knox Hills has recently met with senior support agencies. The group has the common goal of working toward sustaining future pro-grams and availability of amenities. Ross said one of the only ways to ensure these amenities continue is to maintain a steady population of residents at Fort Knox.
There are several advantages for personnel considering moving into housing at Knox Hills. The monthly rent includes basic utilities, trash and recycle collection, lawn mowing services, 24-hour maintenance as well as free furnace filters, light bulbs and smoke detector battery replacement. Additionally, homes available to DoD civilians and military retirees offer storage buildings, garages or basements.
Full-time DoD civilian employees living on post will be permitted to take advantage of DoDEA schools on the installation.
Ross said to maintain a high level of security, DoD civilian and military retirees who wish to rent a home at Knox Hills will first have to undergo a background and credit check.
Those interested in learning more about living on the installation should call a leasing agent at Knox Hills. While appointments are preferred, walk-ins will be accommodated whenever possible. Knox Hills leasing agents are happy to show prospective renters different neighborhoods and available homes. Various floor plans and rental options are available.
Call (502) 799-6550 to schedule an appointment.