2007 MFE Awards
Project of the Year: Military
Just two years ago, Lewis Village at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Va., was indicative of just how bad military housing could get. Barracks-style brick buildings were strewn about haphazardly with more thought given to minimizing cost than to achieving anything that said community. At the most popular units near the elementary school, occupancy was a paltry 30 percent.
Enter Arlington, Va.-based Clark Realty Capital, and Lewis Village has been transformed into a model development—not just for the broader Military Housing Privatization Initiative but for planned multifamily developments of any kind. Where barracks once imposed, a mix of housing types, styles, sizes, and configurations brings an architectural diversity to the neighborhood of 274 homes. Community is encouraged with village greens, larger sidewalks, and fewer curb cuts. For every tree removed during construction, two were replanted. And a 4,500-square-foot clubhouse is seeking Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. That's even as the entire community participates in the LEED-ND pilot project for neighborhood development.
The market-rate appearance of Lewis Village also hides some special features that Clark incorporated after conducting focus groups with Fort Belvoir personnel. Entryways and stairways have been built wider for the frequent move-ins and move-outs of military families who are typically reassigned every two years. Building products were also selected with long-term value and durability in mind. For example, where laminates used to rule, solid surfaces are now standard.
Across the development, the intent was to encourage community building and provide a quality home atmosphere for families who likely had members deployed in combat overseas, says Glenn Ferguson, president of Clark Builders Group. “We are trying to set a new standard for military housing and continue to be on the cutting edge of what is going on out there in the development world. But more importantly, we are also here to build a home for soldiers that will provide a quality of life and a peace of mind for the families they defend.”
Proof of the company's success is obvious: At the new housing adjacent to Lewis Village's elementary school, occupancy is now at 98 percent. In fact, occupancy across the development is effectively at 100 percent. “Everyone just lines up to get into the new houses now,” Ferguson says. “The vacant units are just turnover.”
- Builder: Clark Builders Group
- Developer: Clark Realty Capital
- Architect: Torti Gallas and Partners
- Opened: August 2006
- Units: 274
- Unit Mix: Three-, four-, and five-bedrooms
- Prices: Vary, depending on soldiers' basic housing allowance
Judge's Verdict“THE JUDGES WERE ESPECIALLY IMPRESSED WITH HOW CLARK APPROACHED THIS PROJECT BY MEETING WITH EXISTING RESIDENTS TO UNDERSTAND THEIR NEEDS AND THEN DESIGNING THE PROJECT AROUND THEIR FEEDBACK.”
—Dave Woodward, CEO and managing partner, Laramar Communities