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Fort Drum deployments create open housing market

Julia Botero
Just over 7% of apartments and homes surrounding Fort Drum are on the market.

If you’re looking to rent or buy a home near Fort Drum, now would be a good time. Apartment complexes in surrounding towns are offering special deals in hopes of filling empty units. Recent deployments at Fort Drum has help create an abundance of housing.

The Ontario Village Apartments in Watertown is advertising free first and last month’s rent for new tenants.  The Truscott Terrace apartment complex has opened up its units to civilian families for the first time in thirty years. William Leepy runs the real estate company Northern New York Homes.  He says he’s definitely felt  a change in the market recently.

“If you build all the extra rental communities and what not, of course you’re going to lose some sales out of the real estate market. I think homeowners are going to have to work a little bit extra harder to get things sold as easily as you would two or three years ago," Leepy said.

Decades ago, as Fort Drum expanded, housing for soldiers who wanted to live off base was hard to find. Watertown and the towns surrounding Fort Drum built more apartment complexes to keep up with the demand. Carl Mclaughlin, with the Fort Drum Liaison Organization, says today, renters  have a lot more options.

“All kinds of options. Garden style, townhouse, etc. Military demand has been met.  So we’re in a pretty good position right now,” McLaughlin said.

That is if you’re the person looking for housing. McLaughlin says during the combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, homes would free up as soldiers shipped out. Faced with less than ideal housing and high rent, soldier's spouses and children would leave the area to live with extended family. McLaughlin says now that housing is more plentiful and cheaper than ever before, he’s hoping these military families will choose to stay put now that their soldiers are on training not combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We're also going to Korea. We're also going to Germany and other places around Europe. So this is a new form of deployment,” McLaughlin said.

A little over 7 percent of housing in Watertown is unoccupied. That’s right at the tipping point before vacancies become a problem.  McLaughlin says it's a big question mark if military families this time will decide to stay here until their soldier returns to Fort Drum.