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As Rents Rise in Odenton, Fort Meade Builds on Base

Fort Meade officials broke ground on a new privately developed apartment complex. The project will target junior enlisted service members who have been priced out of apartments nearby.

As Fort Meade has seen its population grow, it also has seen an increasing number of service members living further away from the installation gates. 

Young service members in particular have found themselves priced out of housing nearby and now commute from as much as 30 minutes away, Army officials said. 

The installation is now addressing that problem with the construction of Reece Crossings, a new garden-style apartment complex on base. It is the first-ever privately built apartment project designed specifically for junior enlisted service members. Officials broke ground on the complex during a ceremony Wednesday at Fort Meade. 

Picerne Military Housing hopes to deliver the first set of apartments this year. There will be 416 two-bedroom units, all with full kitchens, laundry rooms and walk-in closets. There also will be a clubhouse with a gym, swimming pool, flat-screen televisions and business center.

Reece Crossings will rent for $1,296 per month, including all utilities, cable television, high-speed Internet, parking and renters' insurance.

According to the Department of Defense, the base area housing allowance for the Fort Meade area is $1,380 per month for a single junior enlisted service member. An enlisted service member looking to rent alone in any of the new apartments outside the base gates in Odenton would find themselves either shy of funds or with little left over. 

"Soldiers were commenting that they had to live further and further away in order to live within their base area housing allowance and have the quality of housing they want," said Katherine Hammack, the assistant secretary of the Army in charge of installations, energy and the environment. "This is in response to a base need."

Reece Crossings will be open to any single service member with the E-1 to E-4 pay grade. Residents can have their choice of roommate. 

Developer John Picerne said service members should easily be able to afford the apartments on the current base area housing allowance and even receive a rebate.

"That's a win-win for them, because it affords a little bit of disposable income," Picerne said.

Col. Edward Rothstein, the installation commander at Fort Meade, said there is an advantage to having young service members on base. They can more easily capture the spirit and community of the installation and there is an added benefit of fewer cars lining up at the base gates each morning. 

Reece Crossing is located within walking distance to several key spots on Fort Meade, including the Defense Media Activity, parade field and Army headquarters. 

Picerne said it will open its leasing office at Reece Crossings this week and expects to complete the clubhouse this year. Full delivery of the project is expected in 2016. 

Calique February 20, 2013 at 06:33 PM
It is a shame that all those apartments have/are going up in Odenton and they are priced out of reach of Soldiers. One would think that Soldiers would be a target market around here for the developers. What are they thinking?
Jeff Andrade February 21, 2013 at 12:46 AM
If I am reading the story correctly, the new 2-BR apts on base, will be $1,296 for each soldier (whose current allowance is $1380 per month) meaning that Picerne will be getting $2,592 in monthly rent for each 2 BR unit. In contrast, 2 BR apartments in Piney Orchard are running about $1450 for a 2BR, 1 bath unit and $1600 for 2 BR, 2 bath. So unless I misread this, I am failing to buy the argument that this project is needed because the local housing market is exceeding the soldiers' housing allowances. If they were building and renting one BR units at $1296, I would say yes this is a great deal because a 1 BR is running about $1450 in Piney Orchard and the new Haven complex, and about $1350 in Seven Oaks, but this doesn't seem to be the case. The on-base 2BR units appear to be over $1000/month more than comparable units off base assuming double occupancy. This sounds like a pretty sweet deal for Picerne and much less of good deal for the soldiers and taxpayers, since Picerne is not paying any state and local property taxes on these on-base apartments and did not have to purchase the land.
Tim Lemke (Editor) February 21, 2013 at 02:35 AM
The new Picerne apartments include all utilities including cable and high speed Internet, as well as parking, trash/recycling and even renters' insurance. So that changes the numbers a little, though not enough to dispute your point. FWIW, the folks from Picerne did some local market research and concluded that the average person in the area pays $2,000 in rent plus $600 or more in fees and other related expenses each month. The $2,000 per month figure does seem high based on what we know about the apartments in the area, but I do know the new Flats170 units are supposed to start at about that range. Picerne may also be factoring in townhouse and single-family home rentals, which are quite pricey right now.
Cooper February 21, 2013 at 11:33 AM
Jeff you are not understanding the housing allowance of $1,380. This is not in addition to the on post new 2 BR apts rent of $1,296.. It will cover the cost of rent and including all utilities, cable television, high speed Internet, parking and renters' insurance. That is a huge benefit to the soldier's monthly budget. I am a 23 year active duty Army spouse. When living in an area with higher than average cost of living, on post housing is a huge benefit to the soldier and the family. It provides higher quality living within your housing allowance.

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