Despite the economic turndown, Fort Jackson officials are expecting a building boom that will change the face of the installation in the coming years.

Construction is already under way for the Armed Forces Chaplaincy School, the new consolidated Drill Sergeant School and a new hotel, but that is only the beginning.

"We're looking at ... unprecedented growth here at Fort Jackson, probably along the lines of the initial construction that built Fort Jackson," said Josef Hallatschek, the installation's master planning division chief. "It'll take several years for us to get to where we want to be, but I would say over the next eight years, there's just a tremendous amount of construction coming here."

Hallatschek explained that the long-term goal is to have four sectors on Fort Jackson:
- The area north of Strom Thurmond Boulevard will be home to all Basic Combat Training units.
- Strom Thurmond Boulevard will be the post's business center.
- Community- and family-related activities will be located close to the housing areas.
- The southern part of the post will be home to the industrial sector.

Col. Lillian Dixon, Fort Jackson garrison commander, emphasized that the first priority is to upgrade the barracks.

"This puts the Soldiers in facilities that they deserve to be in," she said.

Renovations began in early 2007 on the rolling pin barracks on Magruder Avenue. Upgrades to the former 2nd Battalion, 485th Infantry Regiment facilities are expected to be completed by August, Hallatschek said. The barracks will be used as swing space, which means that a battalion will temporarily occupy the space while its facilities are being renovated.

"Every starship barracks, of which we have six, is scheduled for major renovation," Hallatschek explained. "Each one will be vacated between now and 2016 to bring it up to the current standard."

The first starships to be renovated are buildings 11000 and 12000, which are occupied by the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion 13th Infantry Regiment.

In addition to renovating the starship barracks, two new starbases -- in the style of the 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment barracks - are planned. The starbases will be located off Golden Arrow Road.

Construction on the first starbase is set to begin this fiscal year. According to Hallatschek, the plan is for the 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment to move into the new starbase in 2010 or 2011. The 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment is scheduled to move into the other new starbase. A completion date for those barracks has yet to be determined.

Beside improving the Soldiers' quality of life by upgrading the barracks, moving all basic training units north of Strom Thurmond Boulevard makes sense from a training perspective, said Mike Ryan, Fort Jackson strategic planner.

"The Soldiers save time. And they can use that time for training, instead of getting on the bus, getting off, the time they travel and everything else," he said. "If they can gain just an additional 30 minutes a day, compound that by 10 weeks -- that's huge. Little things like that can make a big difference."

Susanne.Kappler1@us.army.mil

Page last updated Fri January 9th, 2009 at 12:23