Despite Yongsan plans, Hannam Village renovations will continue
April 20, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Hannam Village renovations will continue despite high-level U.S.-South Korean talks now under way about Yongsan Garrison’s future, the garrison’s housing division chief said Wednesday.
The renovations recently were reviewed and found to meet Army anti-terrorism standards, said Maj. Ike Zeitler.
“I would say right now my command’s perspective is to try and do as much as we can for quality of life despite whether Hannam is retained,” he said.
Three low-rise buildings — A, D and F — are finished. Apartments were reduced from 206 to 130 units, Zeitler said, while quality rose.
Two-bedroom units have been combined to make large three-bedroom units; three-bedroom ones were combined to make four- and five-bedroom units and some four-bedroom units were remodeled into three-bedroom apartments. The buildings now meet the Army’s standard for new construction or renovations of family housing, which mandates at least a three-bedroom unit, Zeitler said.
“It’s a huge increase in not only the quality, because it’s all good material we’re putting in, and space,” Zeitler said. “Even in the Korean economy, the size has been increased for what a typical family lives in. It’s not only the American standard; the Korean standard has increased.”
The housing area is leased from the Korea National Housing Corp. Built in the early 1980s, the facility was plagued before renovation by bad drainage, stained walls, small counter space and tiny living areas, residents have complained in the past.
Work on low-rise Building B will begin in May, Zeitler said, and on buildings C and E, later in the summer. About $4.8 million is budgeted for the work, with KNHC picking up part of the cost.
“That’s cheap,” Zeitler said.
Plans for the high-rise renovation still are being discussed, he said, although by working on two high-rises at once, the renovations are expected to be completed in just one year. USFK has budgeted $16 million for renovations in high-rises G, H, I and J, Zeitler said, adding that KNHC will pick up some of the cost.
KNHC employs contractors to do the work, which the military inspects and must approve, Zeitler said.
Some minor cosmetic problems occurred with low-rise F, the last one completed, but those were corrected, he said. “It’s not real easy, but KNHC works well with us,” Zeitler said. “We could not do this good for the price.”
During renovations, about 60 percent of company-grade officers and their families will be housed off-post, Zeitler said. USFK plans to move all U.S. personnel on post within 15 years to increase force protection.
By December, a 60-unit midrise apartment building close to the Dragon Hill Lodge should be complete, he said.
U.S. and South Korean officials are discussing whether the South Korean government is willing to pay to move the four commands at Yongsan out of Seoul, freeing up the land. Earlier this month, they agreed to move the Yongsan facilities “as quickly as possible.”
In 1990, the two sides agreed to move the base by 1996. But in 1993, South Korean Defense Ministry officials said it was too expensive, as under the status of forces agreement they would have to pay the moving cost. USFK officials maintain they would be willing to move out of Yongsan if adequate space is provided elsewhere.