PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. — Junior enlisted service members and their families are one step closer to moving into 108 brand new homes after officials raised the first wall of the Lower Stilwell housing development Sept. 8.
The 44-acre, $80 million housing development is located in the Ord Military Community and officials expect to have the homes ready by next summer. The development includes environmentally friendly features that will save energy and water, spacious floorplans, a big playground for children and more.
Col. Varman Chhoeung, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey, and Ted Lim of The Michaels Organization LLC, lifted the first wall together during the Lower Stilwell Going Vertical ceremony at one of the home sites. The partnership between the Army and the business develops and oversees military housing on the Monterey Peninsula.
“It is a public-private partnership that makes this all work,” Chhoeung said at the ceremony. “I am incredibly proud to be here and to be a part of this. This team has done outstanding work.”
Several USAG PoM and Michaels Organization officials attended, and Lim spoke about the features that make the homes environmentally friendly.
“These brand-new, single-family duplex homes will be the first all-electric neighborhood and are designed to LEED silver standards,” Lim said. “These homes will feature solar panels, Energy Star appliances, LED lighting and water-efficient fixtures.”
LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building standard focused on environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. The “silver” standard means the houses will be approximately 30 percent more energy efficient than the average home.
The development also includes many quality-of-life amenities, Lim said.
“Serving as the centerpiece of the neighborhood is a ‘super park’ that will feature playgrounds, picnic areas, barbecue grills, a fitness loop complete with pet stations and, of course, fitness equipment,” Lim said.
On average, the homes will be 1,800 square feet, Lim said.
Also, as the site for the wall-raising event illustrated, some homes will have ocean views of Monterey Bay. “These houses on Monterey Road will be the envy of a lot of the neighbors,” Lim said.
Oscar Ordonez, USAG PoM head of housing, who once lived on the former Fort Ord as a young Soldier, said the development gives junior enlisted service members exceptional housing for their money.
For example, the homes all have at least three bedrooms and include modern appliances, a two-car garage and indoor laundry rooms, to name a few advantages, Ordonez said.
Service members can secure the housing with their housing allowance, Ordonez said, and it provides far more value than they could possibly get off post.
The 2021 “Basic Allowance Housing” rate for junior enlisted service members, or those between the ranks of E1 and E4, is $2,418 a month if they have dependents, according to PresidioOfMontereyHousing.com. As of August, the average rent in Monterey was $2,263 and the average apartment size was 786 square feet, according to RentCafe.com.
The new housing provides other advantages as well, Ordonez said.
“It also allows them to reside in a military neighborhood amongst their fellow service members, where they can go out into the local neighborhood amenities and know the families using them are just like them,” Ordonez said.
Since the Presidio of Monterey itself only has 37 housing units for families on post, most families who live in military housing on the peninsula reside at the nearby La Mesa Village in Monterey or the Ord Military Community, which has roughly 6,000 residents and is near Seaside.
Chhoeung said the military community needs more housing for junior enlisted service members, and the development will help fulfill that need.
The development is part of an ongoing process of tearing down old housing and building new housing, officials said.
Ordonez said the new development replaces 180 Capehart Wherry-type homes built between 1958 and 1962.
Lim said that unlike purely private ventures, the public-private venture between the Army and the Michaels Organization relies upon the cash flow generated from operations.
“It took seven years to save up for this neighborhood, and that’s how these projects generally work,” Lim said. “They are self-funded and independent from government financing.”
Subject to Army approval, the partnership next plans to redevelop 42 homes near Doe Park in OMC, Lim said.
Chhoeung said it is important to remember that quality military housing contributes to readiness and the mission of training linguists and officers.
“That is why we provide a service for our people and that is why we are putting this neighborhood up today,” Chhoeung said.