AP NEWS

Fairbanks officials seek housing commitment from Air Force

May 19, 2018 GMT

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Air Force does not intend to add privatized housing to a base near Fairbanks, an official said, but city leaders are still seeking more assurances.

Fairbanks officials are looking for a commitment on housing at Eielson Air Force Base in order to attract large-scale housing investors, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Friday.

Investors are concerned about being undercut by government-backed housing, so “something in writing that reflects more long-term guarantees” from the Air Force could help bring in the backers, Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Karl Kassel said.

The Alaska base will require about 900 new housing units by 2020 to accommodate the base’s buildup, said Jim Dodson, CEO of the Fairbanks Economic Development Corp. No large-scale housing projects have begun yet.

“What we are trying to do is to get the Air Force to give us a little bit more consideration than just a statement,” Dodson said

Builders are nervous, so more assurances could spur the investment, said Aaron Welterlen, a board member of the Interior Alaska Building Association. The number of housing units needed for the area could be as high as 1,500 to 2,000, he said.

“None of us knows what the true housing need will be until the demand comes,” he said.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski brought the question to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson during a recent Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Air Force budget.

Murkowski told Wilson that there was concern the Air Force might ask an on-base, privatized housing partner to build units, which would compete with private housing.

“Senator, we have no plan for doing privatized housing at Eielson other than what’s already there,” Wilson told Murkowski.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com