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Building boom targets senior military leaders

Date Posted: 2006-07-14

Hundreds of new luxury housing units are under construction on Okinawa to capitalize on demands for better housing for high ranking American military personnel.

Housing agency and real estate companies are spurring the construction, eying increased revenues as they provide Americans with much sought after homes and town houses. Construction companies are building entire villages catering to Americans in the Chatan Town, Uruma City, Yomitan Village and Okinawa City areas. Real estate offices familiar with American tastes, are providing advice to builders on how to make the new housing units most attractive.

Larger is better, they say, and money doesn’t appear to be an object. The new units will rent for $1,200 to $2,500 a month, with a few super luxury homes going for $4,000 a month. The U.S. government provides housing subsidies which cover most, if not all, housing costs for its personnel.

The new homes, with rooms 130~165 square meters, are popular with Americans, and construction companies want to fill that need. Two-story homes and townhouses, a somewhat unusual site on Okinawa, are beginning to dot the new construction landscape.

Homes are being built with large bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs, computer rooms and bars, and with large windows, sunrooms and yards. Some mini-villages of 30-40 homes, American villages, are being constructed to support the military population.

The building surge has some Okinawa leaders worried though, questioning what will happen to the properties when 8,000 Marines leave the island between now and 2014. That doesn’t seem to deter current homeowners, who are surrendering their relatively large homes to Americans at prices upwards of $2,000 a month rent, then moving to small apartments at $500 a month.

Homeowners consider it a good move, noting they’re banking a lot of money as a safeguard against hard times, while also being good neighbors to the American troops looking for nice homes.

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