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The U.S. plans to sign a $50 million leasing agreement next month to eventually move Army personnel and their families into more than 200 homes in a yet-to-be-built housing project a few miles northeast of Vicenza, Italy.

Pizzarotti, a large construction firm based in Parma, was chosen from among six other applicants this summer to take on the project, according to Jim Simpson, a real estate officer with the Installation Management Agency-Europe who is based in Vicenza. Preliminary agreements on the project have already been reached.

“We feel we were really fortunate to be able to reach an agreement with these people,” Simpson said.

Pizzarotti has a record of working with U.S. military communities in Italy, including similar projects with the Navy around Naples and NAS Sigonella and with the Air Force near Aviano Air Base. It’s the first time the Army has chosen the build-to-lease option in Italy, but Pizzarotti also constructed the two new multistory barracks buildings on Caserma Ederle.

Construction is expected to start in December 2007 on a plot of land in the town of Quinto Vicentino, Simpson said. The first set of homes is set to be turned over to the U.S. in July 2009, with another group in November 2009 and the final phase in May 2010.

“We pay nothing on this project until the units are actually turned over to us,” Simpson said.

After that, the U.S. government will pay the company roughly 5 million euros a year for 10 years. That equates to 20,000 euros annually a home, with additional costs for maintenance. The U.S. will also have four five-year options of extending the deal.

Steven Lindell, chief of the housing division for the U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza, said the deal has been years in the making and is not contingent on contentious negotiations to obtain more room for offices and on-base housing at the Dal Molin airfield.

“This is to supplement what the community cannot provide,” he said. Surveys have found that there are not currently enough large homes that meet American military standards on the economy.

More than half the homes in the yet-unnamed development will have three bedrooms, with another quarter featuring four bedrooms and two dozen homes featuring five bedrooms. A few sports fields are also part of the project.

American officials are currently reviewing design plans with the company and Pizzarotti still needs to go through several Italian zoning and application processes.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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