• Guests mill around the Irwin Town Center before the opening of the Military Clothing Sales store in the mixed-use complex, which offers retail amenities and housing for Soldiers and their families at Fort Irwin, Calif. on May 27, 2011. A grand opening for

    Guests mill around the Irwin Town Center before...

    Guests mill around the Irwin Town Center before the opening of the Military Clothing Sales store in the mixed-use complex, which offers retail amenities and housing for Soldiers and their families at Fort Irwin, Calif. on May 27, 2011. A grand opening...

  • Fort Irwin and National Training Center command sergeant major Command Sgt. Major Nathan Buckner tours the new Military Clothing Sales store at the Irwin Town Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. on May 27, 2011.

    Fort Irwin and National Training Center command...

    Fort Irwin and National Training Center command sergeant major Command Sgt. Major Nathan Buckner tours the new Military Clothing Sales store at the Irwin Town Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. on May 27, 2011.

  • Key players in the planning, construction and completion of the Irwin Town Center celebrate after the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Military Clothing Sales store at Fort Irwin, Calif. on May 27, 2011.

    Key players in the planning, construction and...

    Key players in the planning, construction and completion of the Irwin Town Center celebrate after the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Military Clothing Sales store at Fort Irwin, Calif. on May 27, 2011.

FORT IRWIN, Calif.-As Fort Irwin Garrison commander Col. Jim Chevallier prepared to cut the ribbon on the first phase of the Irwin Town Center, a mixed use retail and residential complex, at Fort Irwin, Calif. on Friday, he reminded those attending the ceremony that the complex doesn’t belong to the Exchange.

“This project is going to be successful is because of our community. Don’t take this wrong way, but this is not the Exchange’s town center,” Chevallier said. “This is Fort Irwin and the National Training Center’s town center.”

One of the reasons there has been doubt about the project is because there is a similar project at Fort Belvoir, Va., which has been characterized by empty storefronts, he said.

“A repeated talking theme over and over when we’ve had folks come out and discuss this project is, ‘We ain’t Fort Belvoir and Fort Irwin is different and Fort Irwin this is truly going to be a key project in the life at Fort Irwin,’” he said. “Now we’ve got to cement the deal. It’s our town center. You could almost say we have just crossed the line of departure and to make this project truly successful in support of our Soldiers and families we, as a community, have to own it. It’s ours.”

Another plus for the project is that it was built without any taxpayer dollars, he said.

“This isn’t a government-funded facility; it’s a partnership primarily between the developer, Clark, and the Exchange that results in this service for Soldiers without putting the burden on the budget,” he said. “In future years that’s going to become more and more important.”

The project is a joint venture between Clark Realty Capital and the Exchange, which began in 2004, and Chevallier credited Jodi Winters from Clark Realty as being the driving force behind the project.
“I cannot believe we’ve been working on this for over seven years or that we actually broke ground on this 2 ½ years ago,” Winters said. “We certainly didn’t set a land speed record for the construction of this project, but I think we can all say that it’s been worth the wait.”

Winters said it will become a wonderful addition for the servicemembers and their families serving here at Fort Irwin.

“The fact that we’re standing here today is a strong testament to the partnerships that we’ve built with the Army and RCI and the cooperation we’ve developed with our partner in AAFES,” she said. “This has truly been a monumental effort that has required the dedication, support and straight-up hard work of so many people over the last seven years.”

As he emceed the ceremony Fort Irwin Exchange general manager Georg Main said the Exchange is proud to be a partner in the worthwhile project that benefits the Soldiers and their families at Fort Irwin.

“We have the first of its kind military clothing store we are about to open up today. In addition, we have our partner, Brigade Quartermaster, bringing their new storefront concept,” Main said. “The Exchange is committed to the Soldiers and families of Fort Irwin as well as complementing the vision of Fort Irwin being a choice installation.”

Chevallier echoed Main’s sentiments about making Fort Irwin an installation of choice.

“As always it is great day to be in the Army and to be at Fort Irwin and the NTC as we take one more step, one more step on our continuous journey to ensure Fort Irwin is an installation of choice; an installation known not only just as a world-class place to train, but as a world-class place to live, serve, deploy from and raise a family,” Chevallier said.

Page last updated Tue May 31st, 2011 at 00:00