For the past 10 years, single and unaccompanied Soldiers haven’t had far to look for comfortable and convenient housing at Fort Drum. The award-winning Timbers offers accommodations and hospitality that keeps occupancy rates at nearly 100 percent. (Photos courtesy of Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes)
Hidden gem of Fort Drum housing community offers abundance of amenities to residents
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 14, 2019) – For the past 10 years, single and unaccompanied Soldiers haven’t had far to look for comfortable and convenient housing at Fort Drum.
Rated best in the Army this year, the Timbers provides residents with amenities they would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
The 192-unit community has 64 single-bedroom and 128 two-bedroom apartments located in four buildings just off Main Street Road on South Post. Apartments range from 686 to 957 square feet and include full-sized washers and dryers, ceiling fans, air conditioning, dishwashers, stoves and built-in microwave ovens.
But it’s the Timbers’ spacious and inviting Lodge that many residents find to be the main draw.
“The Lodge is a beautiful facility that people can use as an extension of their apartment,” said Megan Klosner, Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes project director. “We have a billiards room (with dart board) and televisions that broadcast the NFL Ticket, in addition to our theater room where people can lounge and watch movies or play video games on a 120-inch screen.”
The outdoor fire pit is another popular feature, where residents often gather to cook up steaks and burgers, and relax. It’s open yearround, and the staff provides an ample supply of firewood.
The Timbers opened in 2009, offering modern, suite-styled apartment homes for single and unaccompanied Soldiers with the rank of E-6 (staff sergeant) or above.
“The Timbers was designed with a very specific customer in mind,” she said. “And from the beginning, it hit the nail right on the head. Our residents are those young NCOs and officers. They are Army professionals who have important jobs to do, and when they come home, what do they want to see? A comfortable, Adirondack-type lodge with lots of recreational options.”
She said that pre-construction sensing sessions were conducted to find out the specific interests of service members. For example, there was a preference for having additional grills installed between buildings, in addition to the one at the Lodge. An in-house fitness center was addressed as unnecessary due to the proximity of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) facilities and walking trails.
“All of those options were vetted so that we designed something that really creates a sense of place for Soldiers,” Klosner said. “I mean, they work long hours, (they’re) gone all day, they train and deploy – so it’s nice to have someplace close for them to call home.”
Heather Huffman, community manager, said that the Timbers maintains close to 100-percent occupancy rate, and that it generally ebbs and flows with the division’s deployment cycle.
“We’ve been at 98 percent to 100 percent occupancy for most of the year,” she said. “Usually whenever we have an empty unit, it doesn’t take too long to fill.”
Klosner said that the staff can assist deployed Soldiers with pre-lease arrangements while they are still in theater so that their apartment is ready for them when they return to Fort Drum.
“No matter what time the flight arrives, even if it’s in the middle of the night, they will have their home waiting for them,” she said.
Huffman and Jennifer Tabor, leasing agent, make up the front-of-the-house staff. Residents will often stop in their office area to say ‘hello’ and grab a cup of coffee – but more likely a cookie – before heading to work.
“It’s pretty hard keeping the jar full,” Tabor said.
Klosner said that the main reason the Timbers is rated so high is the staff.
“Our staff genuinely cares for, and relates to, the Soldiers who live here,” she said. “They also sort of act as a concierge for the North Country. They will give restaurant recommendations to someone planning a date or mention a festival happening nearby. Heather is local to the area and Jen is a military spouse, so they are like this perfect team.”
The Timbers staff hosts monthly gatherings for residents, whether it’s a March Madness party or Oktoberfest celebration.
“We do everything from planning out events for the whole year, making grocery lists for each event, and we cook everything,” Huffman said. “For Thanksgiving, we’re going to roast four turkeys and prepare all the side dishes. Jen and I are there the whole time, talking with Soldiers. They always ask if they can help clean up after. They pretty much know us, so it’s really kind of like a family dinner for everyone.”
Huffman said that last year’s “Ugly Sweater” competition didn’t win over residents, but the chili bar was a crowd-pleaser.
“We had three big crockpots – one with ground beef, one with ground turkey and a vegan one – and all the toppings,” she said. “It’s just a fun social function.”
Klosner also credited a reliable and professional maintenance crew that handles landscaping, snow removal and 24-hour emergency repair service.
“If anything breaks in their house, we have this incredibly responsive maintenance service,” she said. “Most residents will give us permission to enter their home while at work, so we can make most repairs before they return home.”
Of the five unaccompanied housing complexes in the Army, the Timbers is the only four-time recipient of an A-List Platinum award from CEL and Associates Real Estate, recognizing best-in-industry ratings and superior level of service to residents.
“We are like this little gem hidden away on Fort Drum,” Klosner said. “You kind of forget that we are here sometimes. But when single Soldiers come here, we hope that we can make this their home.”
When 1st Lt. Gabriel Huerta arrived at Fort Drum – his first duty station – he already felt comfortable calling the Timbers his home. En route from Idaho, Huerta was exploring his options and had hoped to find someplace affordable, close to work and have a roommate.
“The day I called them on the road, they were already very accommodating,” he said. “They placed me on a roommate waiting list, told me about the amenities and even suggested other locations to live should I not find the Timbers to be what I was looking for.”
Huerta said that the staff answered all his questions and, in doing so, he was convinced the Timbers was the best choice. That hasn’t changed in the past two years.
“Heather and Jennifer go out of their way to provide a great service to the residents,” he said. “Whether it’s baking cookies and having coffee available every morning, or hosting a monthly event with free food in the Lodge. Ultimately, it’s many small things that add up to a great living experience.”
To learn more about the Timbers, visit https://www.fortdrumtimbers.com or call (315) 688-1067.