By Stephanie Lum
HICKAM AFB (KHNL) -- One of the nation's largest historic housing projects broke ground Tuesday at Hickam Air Force Base.
Dozens of U.S. airmen and women along with military servicemembers gathered to celebrate a new community and a bright future.
"We'll add 1,118 new homes to the already privatized 1,356 homes from the first phase of the project," said Colonel John Torres, Airlift Wing Commander.
With the untying of a maile lei, Hickam officials and project developers marked the beginning of the second phase of Hickam privatized housing.
"For the men and women who are asked to do things and make sacrifices and handle challenges, when they do come back we want them to have a place they can call home," said Colonel Torres.
Spectators donning hard hats cheered and applauded as an excavator tore down an old structure to make room for the new units.
In place of the cinder block structures, more than a thousand environmentally friendly homes equipped with solar water heating systems will be built. They are also designed to minimize water runoff.
"Our homes will be among the most energy efficient homes to airforce families and will keep alive our mission to care for our environment so that it is a long term fit in our island state," said Project Manager David Falls.
Hickam families got to see what their new homes will look like with the completion of Phase One and they like what they see.
"The feedback from all the residents that have moved into the new homes is nothing but 'wow this is great! Wow look at all this space!" said Colonel Torres.
Developers are confident the new houses in phase two will accomplish the same feel of a home sweet home.
Hundreds of pre-world war two homes will also be renovated and restored.