PYONGTAEK, South Korea — The Army is seeking approval to build a mid-rise housing complex at Camp Walker that would create 300 new apartments — three times the number available to families on post.

Officials are hoping that final approval will come in February or March for the project, which would see construction of five 10-story buildings near Walker’s golf course.

Construction would start sometime next August, and the complex would open in September 2006, said Richard Byron, build-to-lease manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Far East District office in Seoul.

“We’re still in the planning stages — nothing’s been approved, but a lot of people are doing a lot of hard work to make it happen,” said Chuck Youngblood, the Army’s chief of Area IV Housing at Camp Henry.

The buildings would house three-, four- and five-bedroom apartments. The smallest would measure 1,700 square feet. By comparison, a typical ranch-style home in the United States with three bedrooms, a kitchen and living room runs from 1,400 to 1,600 square feet, said Youngblood, who is also a licensed real estate broker and appraiser.

Underground parking would afford each family two parking spaces for American-sized cars, he said. Also in the underground garage, each family will have its own storage space.

“They’re large enough you can put a bicycle in it along with your stereo boxes,” said Youngblood. “They’re pretty good size.”

Engineers and housing specialists have spent the past year working up details for the housing complex, Youngblood said.

Planners with the Army’s Installation Management Agency-Korea Region Office in Seoul have submitted a detailed proposal for the project to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Far East District Office in Seoul, Byron said.

The Army soon will invite developers to bid for the contract; the contractor, once selected, would produce blueprints and related plans, he said.

U.S. Forces Korea and KORO then would have to approve the contractor’s plan.

The project would be in the “build-to-lease” category: the developer, not the Army, would pay to build the housing complex out of its own pocket; the Army then would lease the buildings from the contractor, in the form of rents.

The existing Army Family Housing area at Walker consists of 50 one-story houses, nearly all of them two-family duplexes, for a total of 100 dwelling units.

Plans call for tearing down about 25 of the houses to clear space for the new towers. But Youngblood said officials are exploring whether even more of the existing apartments can be saved from the wrecking ball.

“We’re looking at all options,” said Youngblood. “It’s all under review. Instead of taking out 50, we’re looking at maybe taking out 40, trying to save some.”

The Army in Taegu also maintains a family housing area at nearby Camp George — a 200-apartment complex, with 198 units occupied by families.

In working up their plan for new Walker housing, officials are aiming for a complex similar to the Army’s new apartment developments at Camp Humphreys in Pyongtaek and Yongsan Garrison’s South Post in Seoul, Youngblood said.

But they’ve also looked for ways to improve upon the Humphreys-Yongsan model, Youngblood said.

“We looked at those designs,” Youngblood said. “We actually went into the buildings, talked to people there and took notes. We’re putting all of that into our concept … .”

“Those buildings at Camp Walker were built in 1958 and 1959 and we take good care of them, but the size of the apartments was always too small to meet the size of our families today,” Youngblood said.

“We have a lot more children now” in military communities “than we had in 1959, so our space requirements are a lot more.”

Those eligible to live in Camp Walker’s existing family housing area are field grade officers and sergeants major.

“However, with these new apartments, that will change,” Youngblood said.

The Army will decide later just what categories of military personnel would be eligible to live in the proposed complex, he said.

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