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Fort Drum apartment market has under 1 percent vacancy

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The Fort Drum housing market has 18 available apartments, or 0.4 percent vacancy.

“That is as tight as tight can be,” said Carl A. McLaughlin, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization. “Normal is about 5 percent — it can range 3 to 7, but at 0.4, you just don’t have any more units available.”

The numbers were explained Thursday at an FDRLO executive committee meeting, and Mr. McLaughlin expanded on that in an interview Friday.

The market tightened significantly during the last month as the proportion of Fort Drum soldiers on post went from about 55 percent to more than 70 percent. Of the 19,544 soldiers assigned to the post, 5,914 are deployed.

The rental market should be stable for about 90 days as soldiers who returned recently from Afghanistan are given new stations.

“But in March and April, with the return of 3rd Brigade, though we have a lot of (housing) units in the hopper, we won’t see a lot of those units available for a while,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “We will have a tight situation for a period of time before things start to loosen up.”

By the spring, more than 100 units in the final phase of Eagle Ridge in LeRay and the first units for Creek Wood Apartments in Watertown will be available for rental.

“It’s going to be just-in-time product,” he said.

Further down the road, the apartments supported through the community rental housing program should be available in 2013. Both COR Development Co., Fayetteville, and Morgan Management, Pittsford, are finalizing financing for the 699 units in Beaver Meadows Apartments and Morgan Townhouses, including property tax abatement, in the town of Watertown.

“They’ve still got a long way to go to getting their financing worked out,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “They’re in PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) negotiations with the taxing jurisdictions and that’s going to take a little time.”

According to the plans, nearly all of the soldiers assigned to Fort Drum will be at the post in December 2012, then fall off until all are present in July 2014.

The organization tracks apartments for rent in a 20-mile radius of Fort Drum. The 18 units available consist of eight two-bedroom apartments, four three-bedroom apartments and six four-bedroom apartments.

When demand far outpaces supply, history has shown that soldiers are forced to live farther away from Fort Drum.

“They will look beyond the 20- or 30-mile commute for apartments,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “We will expand in every direction.”

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