U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District and its partners have embarked on the next phase of an "Evolution" at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

Leaders from the 52nd Fighter Wing, USACE and local community took part in a groundbreaking ceremony Feb. 21 for the installation's new $25 million commissary. It represents the latest quality-of-life upgrade at this mobility hub in the country's Eifel region, which remains a key provider of combat air power and critical asset under U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa. The base has a population of 7,500 service members, civilians and family members.

The event follows January's grand opening of a $23.5 million fitness center built by Europe District. That venture is part of the "Spangdahlem Evolution," a building initiative that includes the 52nd Medical Group Center and future middle and high schools on base, according to wing officials. The 54,000-square-foot commissary could be ready by the spring of 2016.

"We are all proud members of a larger team helping to modernize the Spangdahlem community and make this project a reality," said Lt. Col. Rick Rieger, Europe District's USAFE program manager. "Together, we are committed to delivering world-class facilities to the dedicated Airmen, civilians and families who live here."

LBB Niederlassung Trier, the German regional construction office, and its architects designed the new commissary with significant enhancements over the current store, according to Dietmar Wittmann, the Europe District project manager. Among them are additional space, wider aisles, modern d├ęcor and a larger selection of items. The total number of checkout counters also will increase from eight to 13.

He said work has progressed smoothly since last month's groundbreaking. In about 10 months, engineers will lay down the sales area's polished concrete floor.

"This state-of-the-art facility is a great improvement and will be conveniently located near the Base Exchange and fitness center," Wittmann said. "It has many advantages for the community. Of course, it's a new facility with new equipment and lower energy demands."

The commissary will feature expansive produce, meat and grocery departments, along with an international delicatessen and bakery, which should elevate the new store's appeal, officials said.

"This modern facility is in line with the Defense Commissary Agency's vision to understand our customers and deliver a 21st-century benefit right here in Spangdahlem," said Norman Brown, the DeCA Europe area director. "Our customers like modern, well-run and well-stocked commissaries, and this facility will enable us to more effectively and efficiently deliver the commissary benefit to them in a way that we couldn't do in the old facility."

The existing commissary, which opened in 1985, has a sales area encompassing about 19,000 square feet. Engineers say the new layout stretches to more than 27,500 square feet.

"I have no doubt it will be a valuable addition and provide many benefits to the hardworking service members and families in the Spangdahlem community," Rieger said. "We'll also incorporate numerous sustainable design and energy-saving features to increase the store's life span and reduce any impact on the environment."

In fact, this will be the first outlet in the DeCA chain to use a carbon-dioxide refrigeration system that lowers energy costs and reduces the organization's carbon footprint, Rieger added. Engineers also plan to maximize the use of natural lighting, motion-sensor controls, low-flow faucets and fixtures; high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems; and other conservation standards.

Brown said the new commissary was designed to meet a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Silver rating.

Solid collaboration will be crucial in completing a project of this magnitude, he added. Europe District has a vital role in managing construction, ensuring it's built to the latest design standards and energy mandates, and delivering a quality product on time.

"DeCA and the Corps of Engineers have had a great working relationship for years, completing many major construction projects both overseas and in the U.S." Brown said. "Teamwork during the design phase helped develop good documents that meet both DeCA criteria and host-nation code requirements, and the partnership that was developed during the design phase continues during construction to ensure the new commissary at Spangdahlem Air Base is a major success."

Wing officials said Spangdahlem has invested more than $370 million in the base's northwest expansion. The needed infrastructure additions will continue for Airmen, their families and the community as they support USAFE-AFAFRICA's enduring missions.

"In a time of fiscal constraints, we can and should fund only mission-essential military construction projects," said Col. David Julazadeh, the 52nd Fighter Wing commander. "I can assure you this one is necessary, and it will be a fantastic quality-of-life improvement for [us]."

Editor's note: Information from the 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office was used in this report.

Page last updated Fri March 14th, 2014 at 00:00