Monday, April 19, 2010

18,000 Beds Planned

18,000 beds planned: Worker housing project begins soon
By Dionesis Tamondong
Pacific Daily News
April 12, 2010

The construction of an 18,000-bed facility to house temporary workers for military buildup projects is set to break ground at the end of this month.

The Ukudu Workforce Village, which covers about 75 acres of property spanning Tamuning and Dededo, is just one of a few sites that have been approved for living quarters for foreign workers needed for military construction work.

The Guam Land Use Commission has also recently approved an application by Black Construction Corp. for its workforce housing project in the Harmon Industrial Park. When completed, that complex can house up to 1,200 workers.

On Thursday, the commission approved DDT Konstract International's application for its 300-capacity barracks along Bello Road in Barrigada.

If the GLUC was to approve all the pending applications for temporary worker housing facilities, the existing and pending barracks would have the capacity to accommodate more than 23,000 foreign laborers, Department of Land Management Director Chris Duenas said.

That figure is close to the combined populations of Santa Rita, Agat, Talofofo, Umatac, Inarajan and Merizo.

Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares said she was initially concerned about the impact the Ukudu Workforce Village could have on her village -- from the strain on water lines to the traffic congestion. But she said most of her concerns have been allayed after learning more about the facility and requirements placed on the developer.

Younex Enterprises Corp., as part of the conditions of the commission's approval, is required to mitigate potential adverse impacts.

Younex must work with Guam Waterworks Authority to ensure water services in surrounding areas aren't disrupted by its workforce housing facility. As well, buses will transport the workers during non-peak traffic hours to alleviate traffic congestion.

One of the many other conditions requires that "written assurances are submitted stating that the conduct or behavior of the H-2 workers will not be disruptive to the island and its people. The workers should be briefed on Guam's culture and customs ... ," according to the conditional approval letter.

The commission and the Department of Defense have certain standard requirements for housing facilities of companies vying for military buildup projects.

So far, the Ukudu Workforce Village is the largest planned worker housing facility. Whether the complex actually meets its capacity depends on the projects awarded to Younex and the number of workers needed for those projects.

"We expect to open the first 2,000 beds in the fourth quarter of 2010 and will continue to add sectors of 2,000 beds as demand warrants, said Younex Senior Vice President David Tydingco. "By the end of 2011 we expect to be up to 8,000 beds, and that will grow as additional demand warrants."

The workforce village will provide workers three meals a day, a 24-hour medical clinic, organized recreational activities, banking services, convenience stores and other services.

The 252-acre property sits on the Harmon Annex adjacent to the Navy's South Finegayan family housing. About 75 acres of that property is dedicated for the worker housing facility, which is also conveniently located near the planned Marine Corps base.

The major buildup projects won't start until the Record of Decision is handed down by the Navy's top officials, and that's expected this summer.

An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 workers from off island will be needed for numerous projects related to the military buildup over several years.

Already, developers and construction companies are gearing up for those multi-million dollar contracts and subcontracts, and that includes obtaining additional workers and finding or building facilities to house them.

Core Tech International's application for its workforce living quarters -- the Royal Hawaiian Apartments in Tamuning -- is pending before the Land Use Commission, and it has two other sites it can use as barracks, said Joshua Tenorio, Core Tech's business development director.

Last year, Core Tech acquired the Royal Hawaiian Apartments and the vacant El Dorado apartment complex in Upper Tumon. The company can also convert its Tiyan facility, which it's currently leasing to the local government for the temporary John F. Kennedy High School, into a barracks.

"We're doing what we need to do in terms of upgrading our facilities and going through the regulatory process so that we're able to exercise our options if we're fortunate to be awarded one of those contracts," he said.

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