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Cranes hovering over cities have become commonplace in the Kaiserslautern area such as these in the village of Machenbach near Ramstein Air Base. Ingolf Deubel, the minister of finance for Rheinland-Palatinate, stated during an interview with Stars and Stripes that there are plans to build as many as 1,800 homes to support Ramstein and Spangdahlem Air Base communities over the next few years, starting with a commitment to build 700.
Cranes hovering over cities have become commonplace in the Kaiserslautern area such as these in the village of Machenbach near Ramstein Air Base. Ingolf Deubel, the minister of finance for Rheinland-Palatinate, stated during an interview with Stars and Stripes that there are plans to build as many as 1,800 homes to support Ramstein and Spangdahlem Air Base communities over the next few years, starting with a commitment to build 700. (Ben Bloker / S&S)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Private German investors plan to build as many as 1,800 off-base homes for Americans stationed at Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases to help feed the growing housing demand.

Rhineland-Palatinate state cabinet members created a development company this week to implement the government-facilitated housing program, state Deputy Minister President Karl Peter Bruch said Wednesday.

While the government is overseeing the project, private companies will finance the construction of the town homes and apartments. The consortium has not determined where to put the homes.

The program initially will build 400 homes in the Kaiserslautern area and 300 near Spangdahlem. If the 1,800 homes are built, the estimated cost of the project will reach $262 million, Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Finance Ingolf Deubel said.

Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases are in the midst of tearing down old stairwell apartments and building hundreds of new town homes on base for U.S. servicemembers and their families to meet Pentagon housing improvement requirements. Although the new base units offer more space and are considerably nicer than the 1950-style apartments, the housing construction project will result in a net loss of on-base homes.

“It’s clear there is a demand for off-base housing,” said Gen. Richard Johnston, commander of 86th Airlift Wing and the Kaiserslautern Military Community.

Deubel said the state government is still working out the details with the U.S. military and the private companies. Investors want a 10-year contract and are working out stipulations in case the Pentagon decides to decrease troops in the area, he said.

Private companies also insist that the architecture and style of the homes blend into the surrounding villages and not look “military.” Part of the reason, Deubel said, is so the investors could sell the homes to German residents if the U.S. military could not place families in them.

Ramstein and Spangdahlem became the Air Force’s two major airlift hubs in Europe after the closure of Rhein-Main Air Base, near Frankfurt, in 2005. The Kaiserslautern area is home to 54,000 Americans and their families, making it the largest U.S. military community outside the U.S.

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