The city of Robstown has received a federal grant to help with new housing for defense workers at a planned Army Reserve warehouse in the city.

The Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant of $64,987 will allow for the extension of wastewater and water utilities to the western section of the city known as the West Star subdivision. The city must provide a 20 percent match of $12,997, making $77,984 available for the infrastructure improvements to assist in the creation of new, single-family housing.

The federal grant is intended to assist the city in meeting the expected housing demands of defense workers at the U.S. Army Reserve's Controlled Humidity Storage Facility to be built near the corner of Business 77 and Highway 44.

The grant application stated that rental units are available in Robstown, but "there are few, if any, available single-family homes due to the lack or inadequacy of infrastructure for wastewater, water, drainage, and transportation."

The city proposed offering 30 lots of the West Star subdivision between West Main Avenue and Avenue A for the construction of new homes for any moderate-income families seeking housing in the city.

The city is proposing street, water, wastewater and drainage upgrades in and around the West Star subdivision, which is near San Pedro Elementary School. The proposed upgrades include improving Main Avenue leading to the subdivision, and upgrading 5,100 feet of drainage, curb and gutter along Main Avenue.

Additionally, a new, 6-inch waterline will provide enough water pressure and fire protection for the area and an 8-inch wastewater line will ensure proper wastewater facilities for the new homes.

Robstown grants administrator Beatriz Charo said the grant would help the city develop the West Star subdivision.

"Now we have the funding to get it started," she said.

Eight phases of construction, totaling 960,000 square feet, are planned for the Controlled Humidity Storage Facility.

The Army Reserve has budgeted $9.8 million for the initial phase, which will consist of a 120,000-square-foot hurricane-proof facility between Highway 77 and the Union Pacific Railroad.

The city donated 50 acres to the federal government to build the state-of-the-art storage and training facility.

The initial phase will create 15 to 50 permanent civilian jobs to store and maintain military equipment, said Danny East, a retired colonel and a logistics management specialist for the U.S. Army Reserve.

Additionally, numerous support companies will be based at the site, such as a mechanics shop.

Bids for the initial phase were solicited last month. Groundbreaking is anticipated in January or February and the entire design and construction schedule is 360 days, meaning the initial phase should be completed in early 2009.

Other steps must be completed before construction can begin. For example, the Army Reserve must issue findings of "no practical alternative" and "no significant impact" since the site near Business 77 is on a floodplain.

The Army Reserve must also select a builder and award a contract, which is a process that officially began with the bid solicitation Oct. 16. The projected bid award date is Jan. 15.

The Army Reserve plans to ultimately construct 960,000 square feet of storage facilities at the warehouse site, including a small maintenance facility, with a total cost projected to be between $50 million and $60 million.

The entire project is expected to bring up to 200 direct permanent jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs to the Coastal Bend area.

The project will provide controlled-humidity facilities for Army Reserve heavy equipment to prevent rusting or other degradation that accompanies humidity in the air.

The facility will store trucks, semi-trailers, road graders, pipelines, bulldozers and other heavy equipment for four or five years, keeping it ready to be sent to a port for deployment.

East said the vast majority of the Army Reserve's heavy equipment is presently stored outdoors in Alaska, Europe, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, American Samoa and elsewhere around the globe.

He said the Army Reserve's goal is to place 38 percent of its equipment in controlled-humidity facilities at strategic sites by 2015.