Keesler Making Progress With Historic Housing Project

"This is the largest housing project ever before constructed within the Air Force," said commander Jeff Szatanek, as he showed visitors the new home construction in Thrower Park.

The homes being built just off Jim Money Road are one part of a massive, multi phase project that will eventually include 1028 new homes.

"We're getting ready to open up the first of our homes. We're projecting that for March of this year. And we have within Thrower Park right now, 198 homes and 36 of those homes are getting ready to open in the first phase of construction," said Szatnek, who commands the 81st Civil Engineer Squadron.

One project manager calls the pace "fast and furious". The biggest challenge is a refrain that's all-to-familiar to many coast home owners still trying to rebuild.

"Trying to get the contractors here to do the work has been the largest challenge. I mean we're all competing for the same labor force and it's really affected us cost wise," said project manager Bob Moseley.

Once the homes are finished, the housing office takes over the logistics assignment.

Brett Long must juggle families with available spaces.

"Really a challenge of moving people and deciding who's going to move based on where the next demolition is so we can construct new housing. Like a domino effect. I move one family, tear their house down, move them into a new home and vice versa. It's just going to continue for the next four years," he explained.

The new families will be living in more sturdy structures. The new houses all meet stringent hurricane standards.

"All the doors and windows are hurricane rated. We have sheer panels within the walls, interior walls. Additionally, we have a cable system that goes from the foundation up to the roofline," said on site manager, Larry Trafton.

The total housing project at Keesler will cost nearly $ 300,000,000.

Work will begin later this year on new home construction in the East and West Falcon neighborhoods.