US Army Corps of Engineers Real Estate Services Plays Key Role in US Missions in Europe | Item
LONGARE, Italy – Last fall, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army Garrison Italy, and other partners and local community members here celebrated the completion of a new, widened Via dei Martinelli roadway in benefit of soldiers using the nearby Longare facility as well as members of the surrounding commune.
The project was overseen by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District and, as a project entirely out of the nearby Longare facility, required considerable support from the European District’s real estate division and from their local real estate office in Italy.
“The Italian real estate office team secured the real estate agreement with the city and the underlying real estate agreement gave us the authority to spend money on the project and emphasized that the city was responsible for the acquiring the footprint of the project which widened the existing road,” said Mark Harkison, head of the real estate office in Italy.
District Europe’s real estate division provides direct support for projects such as the Via dei Martinelli widening effort, but their mission goes well beyond individual U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction projects. Their team actually provides key real estate support to all US Army forces stationed and operating in the European theater.
“The Europe District Real Estate Division acquires, manages, releases and disposes of real estate interests – such as leases, licenses and international agreements – for U.S. Army Forces Europe,” said Anne Kosel, Chief of real estate division of the Europe district. “We have six real estate offices in three countries responsible for approximately 1,700 contractual requirements to support our partners in Europe.”
This includes managing real estate agreements called consignments, which are the actual agreements between host country partners and the United States that allow for long-term bases in foreign countries like Italy and Germany.
“The land we’re sitting on, the underlying landowner is the Italian Ministry of Defense and the dispatch is the document that gives control of the MoD to the US government so we can do what we need with this base,” Harkison said while on Caserma Ederle, part of the U.S. Army’s Italian garrison in the Vicenza area.
In addition to managing these consignment agreements for US Army garrisons, the European District real estate team also manages residential and commercial leases for US forces, such as housing communities for soldiers and their families or warehouses. or offices needed to support various missions.
This can range from managing the rental of property and off-post accommodations for general officers’ quarters associated with the US Army Garrison in the Benelux to acquiring space at ports and airports in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Italy to support the movement of American personnel. , official and personal mail, household goods and personal vehicle shipments.
Europe District’s real estate team also helps ensure the availability of housing for soldiers and their families through innovative build-to-lease schemes like the one where construction is underway on over 100 homes for soldiers and their families. out of post at the US Army Garrison. Italy. Through programs like this, private builders construct off-post housing designed specifically for soldiers and their families through agreements with the military. By doing so, builders are offered certain tenant guarantees for a period of time after construction as long as the properties are properly maintained and continue to meet agreed standards.
Popular housing for soldiers and their families in the Netzaberg community associated with the US Army Garrison in Bavaria, Germany is an example of this type of program.
“We are proud to be able to work closely with our partners at U.S. Army Garrisons and Installations Management Command to find and secure housing opportunities for our Soldiers and their families when the need arises. “, said Anne Kosel, head of real estate for the European district.
In addition to bolstering the availability of housing for soldiers and families, the Europe District Real Estate Division supports any additional land or building space the U.S. military may require throughout Europe. Most of this work is done in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, but can be done in other countries depending on the dynamic needs of the military and in recent years has included the acquisition and management of real estate leases for offices, other commercial spaces and housing in Romania, Bulgaria and Poland for example.
Projects like these and working across multiple international borders to meet the wide range of military real estate needs in Europe can bring unique challenges.
“It’s really quite different when you come from states where American law governs everything,” Kosel said. “Each country we operate in has different laws, customs and procedures. It is important to recognize, understand and appreciate these unique aspects in order to facilitate negotiations and reach agreement on the terms and conditions of the contract. Sometimes what works in Italy in their style, doesn’t work in Germany or Belgium and so that’s the challenge – really is to understand the uniqueness of each place, action and negotiating partner.
Kosel noted that a big key to the real estate team’s success is their local national staff cadre who bring invaluable experience to the mission while working closely with the district’s Department of Army Civilians, or DAC. . About half of Europe District’s real estate team is made up of local nationals, in contrast to about a quarter of the overall Europe District workforce which is made up of local nationals.
“We are very lucky to have our national workforce here,” Kosel said. “While DECs come and go from time to time, our local national team members stay and provide continuity, which is a key contributor to the success of our mission. They have the language skills, knowledge of international agreements , technical arrangements and procedures and relations with our counterparts in the host country.”
Kosel encouraged anyone interested in being part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers real estate mission to think about it, saying she finds the variety and challenges that come with the mission rewarding.
“I like the variety and challenges that geography presents, as we work in so many different countries,” Kosel said. “No two transactions are the same, no owner is the same, no country is the same. I love the challenge that variety brings.