By Pfc. Jennifer KennemerJuly 20, 2009
FORT BLISS, Texas -- The groundbreaking ceremony for Freedom Crossing, the first in a series of three open-air marketplaces slated to be developed for military installations, was held at Fort Bliss Friday.
Plans for the Freedom Crossing lifestyle center feature a 10-screen movie theater, specialty brand clothes and goods, full-service restaurants and free wireless Internet. The Post Exchange and Commissary will also be expanded and remodeled as part of the project.
"Today marks the beginning of a new beginning, [Freedom Crossing] will change the face of military retail for a generation," Maj. Gen. Keith L. Thurgood, Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) commanding general.
"[With Freedom Crossing] we free ourselves from the dogmas and ideas from the past, and we cross over to a new frontier, a new way of doing business that we have never done before," said Thurgood.
AAFES has partnered with ServiceStar Development Company on the project, which is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2010. As a result of Freedom Crossing, it is estimated that more than 900 jobs will be created within the community.
Community was one of the key themes of the groundbreaking ceremony; Maj. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg, Fort Bliss commanding general, touched on the idea often during his speech.
"More than a place to shop, Freedom Crossing will serve as the social gathering place for the greater Fort Bliss community," Bromberg said.
In keeping with the Army's dedication to lessen negative impacts on the environment, the facility is also designed to be designated a Silver Rating by the United States Building Council and its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program; with practices to include the use of recycled materials, day-lighting principles and low-water usage.
Similar lifestyle centers are scheduled for construction at Fort Lewis, Wash. and Fort Sam Houston, Texas.