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Whidbey's Navy housing goes 21st Century with hundreds of new units

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Commanding Officer Captain Gerral David addresses a crowd of military families and state and local officials during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new on-base housing developments. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Commanding Officer Captain Gerral David addresses a crowd of military families and state and local officials during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new on-base housing developments.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

Housing at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station has come a long way from the original, single-story units on Victory Hill.

Today's NAS Whidbey Island sailors and their families enjoy newly-constructed homes in the Maylor's Point, Oriole and Crescent Harbor neighborhoods.

The 359 new units are the product of a public-private agreement between Navy Region Northwest and Forest City Enterprises, Inc.

"Forest City is building better houses than the Navy would if we did it ourselves," said Captain Gerral David, NAS Whidbey Island Commanding Officer, speaking at a ceremony on Monday. "They exceeded the expectations of the Navy family."

Comfortable, Navy-provided housing is essential to the well-being of Navy families, he said.

According to David, 30 percent of Whidbey's military families live on base.

"These communities are great examples of what we want all Navy Housing to one day resemble," he said. "It is important that our families feel at home and well taken care of while stationed at NAS Whidbey."

Tom Henneberry, president of Forest City, said the project goes beyond basic housing.

"It's more than brick and mortar," he said, "it's really the building of communities and the sense of place."

Henneberry called the new development a "50-year venture with 25 more years if we've done a good job," meaning the neighborhoods are likely to serve Whidbey families for the next 75 years.

In addition to the 359 new single-family, ADA accessible units, the Whidbey Island project also included 162 renovations and the demolition of a number of outdated structures.

The new naval neighborhoods of NAS Whidbey Island are part of a $290 million development project that also includes housing improvements to the Kitsap Naval Base and Lake Stevens housing for the Everett base.

Providing top-of-the-line housing to Navy families is an honor, Henneberry said, adding that the demolition of older homes and construction of brand-new units adds to the joy of the job.

"It's kind of a fun part of the job, too, as you can imagine."

The project isn't complete, Henneberry said. In the next few weeks, NAS Whidbey families can expect to see an expansive green-belt area take shape, complete with a playground. By August, Forest City plans to break ground on three neighborhood community centers.

Numerous military, state and local officials attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, including state Rep. Barbara Bailey, who gave the project a whole-hearted, two thumbs up.

"I'm speaking as a military spouse here," she said. "This is one of the most breathtaking things I've seen from the military in a long time."

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