With so many new houses in various stages of construction, parts of Rock Island Arsenal resemble parts of north Bettendorf.

The Arsenal is better than halfway through a major housing addition that will deliver 71 new homes and about 300 full-time residents to the island.

The houses are being built in two places: On and behind the Iowa-facing riverfront between Quarters One and the Col. Davenport House and the site of the mostly demolished 1970s housing off the Arsenal's main drag, Rodman Avenue.

A housing study from 2012 showed the need for housing for the island's "green-suit population," meaning enlisted soldiers and officers and their families, the Garrison commander, Col. Kenneth Tauke, said Wednesday.

"We probably could've built more," he said, adding that a funding request has been submitted, seeking to add "bachelor housing" to the island.

Here's the breakdown on the 71 units — many of which are expected to be move-in ready by April: 41 are at the Davenport site, which gets its name from the close proximity of some units to the Col. Davenport House. The other 30 homes, including duplexes, are being built at the Rodman site, which contained 32 apartment units prior to demolition.

Two of the old homes at Rodman were left standing and are serving as construction offices. When the houses are done, Tauke hopes, the old Rodman homes could be retrofitted into bachelor/bachelorette quarters. If the funding isn't available, the homes will be demolished, the colonel said.

For an military installation that has seen only two residential buildings go up in about 50 years, the plentiful new housing is generating considerable excitement on the island.

"They're all for military, and they're intended for the enlisted, warrant officer ranks — up to colonel," said Calvin Schmid, project engineer out of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Louisville District. "They (occupants) have to have a dependent; have children.

"They all have a storm shelter for up to an F-5 tornado."

But the construction cost for the 71 homes might blow you away. Not counting the cost of the Corps' management team, early design work and engineering, the price tag is $47.6 million.

For some who will move into the homes, Tauke said, the convenience is priceless.

"It's a little less challenging," he said of island residents who generally serve only two or three years on the post before moving to their next assignment. "The cable company is the only one you have to call, but everything else is turned on and ready to go. It's a softer landing if you're only here for two or three years."

On-post housing also can make moving on easier.

"It'll be nice to have the community on the island," Tauke said. "We're very fortunate to be part of the Quad-Cities — part of the Quad-City family. Even though we're bringing families onto the island ... we think this is a great place to come, work and raise your family — not just on the island.

"We couldn't imagine a better location," he said.

And what is the colonel's role in the island's biggest residential construction project in decades?

"The contractors build them, the Corps of Engineers oversees them, and I'm the customer," he said.

Does this mean he was asked to pick out countertops and light fixtures?

"I was appraised of countertops," he said. "I think they did a nice job on the interiors. They're nice homes."

Spoiler alert: They're not all green.

Contact Barb Ickes at 563-383-2316 or bickes@qctimes.com.

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