DORAL, Fla. – Gen. Laura J. Richardson celebrated the beginning of the construction of a military housing project that will be within walking distance from The U.S. Southern Command, which is responsible for the military resources in the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Richardson, who Biden nominated in 2021, delivered a speech during a public groundbreaking ceremony on Monday in Doral and said that it took about seven years of work for the construction of the much-needed housing project to start this summer.
“At times it seems as if the entire country wants to move to South Florida, which makes the housing market, very, extremely competitive,” Richardson said. “This situation creates a significant financial strain on our military members who in some cases they pay hundreds of dollars more than they get for their housing allowance.”
The base, also known as SOUTHCOM, is a joint command of about 1,250 U.S. military members from the Marine Corps, Air Force, Army, Navy, and Coast Guard. Richardson said some live over an hour away to be able to afford the cost of living and they have to brave the South Florida traffic.
“This project will provide housing for nearly 200 military members and their families,” Richardson said. “The neighborhood will include 60 apartment units for up to 120 unaccompanied military servicemembers, 48 townhouses, 24 duplexes, and seven single-family homes.”
The southern development will include up to 302,000 square feet of retail space below the apartments and up to 806 parking spaces, according to the project’s final environmental assessment by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2021.
“The project will not only alleviate housing challenges for servicemembers but will also serve as an encouraging recruiting tool,” Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette M. Nuñez said.
The need arose after the military housing at the Homestead Air Force Base closed more than three decades ago. The Federal Aviation Administration worked with the U.S. Army to transfer up to 51.7 acres of FAA land to the Army for the housing project.
Christi Fraga, the city’s newly elected mayor, said it was her first groundbreaking ceremony as mayor. Miami-Dade Commissioner Juan Carlos Bermudez, the former mayor of Doral, said the effort to make a military housing project required persistence.
“This was an uphill battle,” Bermudez said.
Richardson, Fraga, Bermudez, Nuñez, and Rep. Mario Diaz Balart were among the group who held up shovels for a photograph during the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony.