Army opts to build smaller housing in Vicenza
September 3, 2008
Plans to build a large housing community for U.S. soldiers in the Vicenza, Italy, area have been scrapped in favor of a handful of smaller groupings, the Army has confirmed.
The Army had previously negotiated a deal with a contractor to build a 215-home subdivision in the suburb of Quinto Vicentino. But that plan ran afoul of regional zoning laws, according to Kambiz Razzaghi, director of the Transformation Construction Management Office at Caserme Ederle.
"Yes, [Quinto] is dead," he said Thursday.
Recently, Italians who oppose the U.S. use of the Dal Molin airfield have been demonstrating against American projects and events around the area. But the decision not to build the subdivision was not for political reasons, Razzaghi said.
The U.S. has received approval to build barracks and offices for the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team on Dal Molin.
Construction there hasn’t started yet but is projected to be completed by the spring of 2012. Razzaghi said the military expects the build-to-lease units also to be ready for occupancy by then.
The need for more three-, four- and five-bedroom homes that meet Army standards in the area was identified in 2004 before the decision to consolidate the brigade in Vicenza was made, Razzaghi said.
He said the U.S. has asked for proposals from Italian contractors interested in building homes that the U.S. government would lease for 10 years, with the option of extending those agreements over time. In order to avoid zoning issues that arose over the Quinto project, developers must already control land that’s been pre-approved for residential use.
The Veneto regional government issued the new regulations to smaller towns in order to safeguard agricultural land and avoid "urban sprawls," Razzaghi said. If the Quinto town council had approved the development, "they would have exceeded their quota for the next 10 years. So no Italian would have been able to build a home. We didn’t want that, the contractor didn’t want that and so it was dropped."
Building a large housing community in another location was unlikely as well due to the same zoning restrictions.
Instead, the Army decided to look at the way that similar housing communities operate around Aviano Air Base. There are more than two dozen small American housing communities built around Aviano — each in a different Italian town.
Razzaghi said the Army survey found mostly positives with the Aviano setup and decided to go in that direction. The number of communities and their size will depend on the proposals submitted by Italian contractors, who will maintain ownership of the units once they are built and serve as landlords for troops as long as the leases are in effect.