FAIRBANKS — Starting in 2020, the housing market in the Fairbanks North Star Borough is expected to tighten up as hundreds of new U.S. Air Force members and their families start arriving.
Military and local leaders are teaming up to drum up interest among investors, developers and builders to meet the expected housing demand, which is being driven by the addition of two new F-35 squadrons to Eielson Air Force Base.
Estimates are that about 800 housing units will be needed on the east side of the borough by the end of summer 2021.
“We have young airmen coming,” said Col. Richard Cole, commander, 354th Mission Support Group at Eielson. “It really needs to be apartments.”
The geographic area where military and local leaders are focusing on for future development goes from North Pole to about halfway between Salcha and Harding Lake.
A Housing Summit is planned for 2 p.m. March 9 at the Pipeline Training Center.
Officials will also spread the word at the Interior Alaska Building Association’s Home Show, which is the last weekend in March.
Eielson has about 900 housing units, and all of them are full except for about 100 that are currently under renovation, Cole said.
The military has no current plans to expand housing on Eielson, he said.
Service members and their families will need apartments that cost about $1,600 a month, including utilities, Cole said.
“We need one-bedroom one-bath apartments, we need two-bedroom apartments and we need three-bedroom apartments,” the colonel said.
The Fairbanks Economic Development Corp. is helping get the word out about the housing situation and is a sponsor of the Housing Summit, which will comprise builders, bankers and officials from the borough and North Pole.
Land is available for development around North Pole and Salcha, according to local officials.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” FEDC President Jim Dodson said.
He said the Housing Summit will have information about what land is available, what the banks will loan and what the Air Force needs.
“Make it easy. That is the idea,” Dodson said.
North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward said it’s an exciting opportunity for his community of about 2,200 people. He is hoping the buildup at Eielson results in an economic boom for North Pole.
The city is working on a separate effort to gauge what the retail needs will be, Ward said.
The Air Force projects that the F-35s will increase the population on the east side of the borough by about 3,500 people.
“They need places to eat. They need places to shop,” Ward said. “It is definitely an economic opportunity and one we are definitely excited about.
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