Cherry Point will grow by nearly 10 percent over five years as the Marine Corps beefs up its numbers nationwide.
An estimated 1,242 active-duty Marines and 243 civilian workers are expected during the five-year growth period, bringing up to 1,500 spouses and children, according to Master Sgt. Lawrence Torres of Cherry Point Public Affairs. More than 400 Marines and 50 civilians are set to arrive during the next fiscal year.
The Marines will comprise CH-53, Huey and Cobra helicopter units and will be stationed at Cherry Point while permanent facilities are built at the New River air station. They will be replaced by two F/A 18 Super Hornet squadrons that will begin arriving in 2010.
“Of course, you have an off-base impact across Marine Corps Installations East and specifically Cherry Point,” Torres said. “The off-base housing and apartments will need to be able to support this.”
Torres said there already is a waiting list for military housing aboard Cherry Point, and officials are considering a family housing expansion for the air station between 2010 and 2012.
The new Marines and civilians will earn combined salaries of about $58 million, according to estimates, boosting the region’s tax base and infusing eastern North Carolina’s economy with new dollars.
Nationally, the Marine Corps plans to increase its numbers to 202,000 over the next five years. About 11,500 new Marines are expected for eastern North Carolina bases, Maj. Gen. Robert C. Dickerson, the commander of Marine Corps Installations East, said at a recent press conference in Jacksonville.
With little base housing available, where will the new Marines and civilians coming to Cherry Point live?
Nan Simcox, a real estate agent with Keller-Williams Realty and a member of the Neuse River Region Association of Realtors, said the area’s housing market can support the troop increase.
“It’s going to be great,” she said. “We have a very good selection of available homes for sale, and I believe we have a good amount for rent as well. I think it will be a boon for everybody.”
Simcox said there are currently 133 single-family homes and up to 30 multi-family townhouses or condominiums available within Havelock’s 28532 postal code. An additional 147 homes are for sale between the Carolina Pines development and the U.S. 70 bridge to New Bern, and she said data shows 90 current listings in Newport.
“There are 300 to 400 homes within an easy commute to Cherry Point,” she said. “We’re kind of lucky here in Havelock. We’re right in the middle of the two big towns, New Bern and Morehead City.”
She said mortgage interest rates are currently low and Havelock’s housing market does not mirror some national regions affected by adverse real estate trends.
Torres said the additional Marines and civilian workers will increase local school and day-care enrollment and require some infrastructure improvements.
Money for that infrastructure improvement could come in the form of grants from the Pentagon, according to officials.
Cherry Point’s total workforce for the 2007 fiscal year is 16,190, according to the air station’s economic impact literature. Military and civilian employees there earn a projected $1.2 billion in annual salaries.