Ribbon cutting ceremony held on post this week

Less than two years after an Ef-3 tornado struck Fort Leonard Wood, installation officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony representing the first phase of new homes built to replace those lost on New Year's Eve of 2010.

The entire project is expected to be complete in late Spring, 2013 and will include 160 duplex homes. Thursday's ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated the delivery of the first 40 homes completed from the project.

“This represents the first phase of the delivery of the 160 homes,” said project director Richard Cole of Belfour Beatty Communities. “Hopefully, the good weather will push out through Christmas and we can finish on time.”

The homes are located in the Woodlands neighborhood, instead of the Piney Hills location where the tornado occurred.

Project leaders agreed that the Woodlands neighborhood would be best considering it already had neighborhood infrastructure built on it.

“It had homes in there that were demolished back in 2006 and 2007,” said Cole. “And so it was a vacant neighborhood with no homes and became the ideal area to build new homes in because the roads were already there.”

The duplexes will be located on Frizell and Epps streets. The 70 new duplex units on Frizell Street will be designated for company-grade officers while the 90 duplex units on Epps Street will house junior-enlisted Soldiers, primarily E1 to E4.

The construction project costs a total of $31.5 million, provided by a combination of Army equity, contributing equity of Balfour Beatty Communities and insurance proceeds from the destroyed homes.

“The investment in Fort. Leonard Wood is a true statement to the value of our mission, our service members and the families as we deliver these great homes.

While the homes destroyed were an average of about 980 to 1,150 square feet, the new homes will be an average square footage of about 1,840 square feet, and feature a tornado safe room that can withstand 250 mile-per-hour winds.

Diana Kinlaw, the regional project director of Belfour Beatty Communities said that the delivery of these homes shows how the Fort Leonard Wood community came together to rise about the disaster.

“The efforts of the entire community to replace the destroyed units was just astonishing,” Kinlaw said. “This community stood up as it stood when tragedy occurs to make it a better place.”