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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — About 280 family housing units here will undergo major renovations in coming months as part of a $48 million military construction project.

Congress approved the spending under the Post Acquisition Improvement Plan, said Merlin Miller, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy base civil engineer.

Housing units qualify for the funding 20 years after they’re built so they can be renovated to current standards, he said.

The 281 family housing units to be refurbished are spread throughout the main base and the north area, and include H-style housing and Tower 937. This will be their first major renovation since they were built in the 1980s, Miller said.

“It’s as big as this base has seen,” he said of the project.

Most units to receive work will be left empty after families leave due to a permanent-change-of-station move. About 17 families will likely have to be relocated because they are not PCSing, Miller said.

Those families have been notified but won’t have to move until after the holidays, he said. The goal is to provide them with similar on-base quarters, Miller said, but that may not be possible because Misawa’s housing is 98 percent full.

“If those are not available,” he said, “we’re trying to give them options to move off base or to be relocated to different quarters that aren’t like their previous quarters.”

Work is slated to begin in early January and includes:

New paint, carpeting and fixtures.New kitchen cabinets.An expanded kitchen area with washer and dryer moved to a separate cubicle.Entry-way changes to the three- and four-bedroom units, including what’s called an Artic entry, similar to a mud room, and an awning over the front patio.Exterior bulk storage to meet current Air Force guidelines.Marcy James, base community planner, said that the 5- to-6-foot-high partition wall outside the H-style housing also will be lowered “to allow a seated person to observe his or her children at play (in the yard) and to allow for more natural light into the structure.”

A Japanese company, Obayashi Corporation, was awarded the project contract. Miller said the construction period is about 841 days, but he expects it to be shorter.

The project is the first of five phases slated to renovate Misawa’s older housing units over the next five to eight years, Miller said. Although funding has been approved, Congress doesn’t release the money until the fiscal year before the project period, Miller said.

He could not provide a dollar amount for all five phases, saying “it’s always a possibility that funding is moved and shifted” based upon the war on terrorism.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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