By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneNovember 12, 2009
Brick by brick, steel beam by steel beam, Redstone Arsenal is experiencing a fundamental change in its business landscape that is destined to affect its tenants and the entire Tennessee Valley community for years to come.
A drive along the Arsenal's main thoroughfares offers plenty of evidence to the expanding footprint of Arsenal facilities. New buildings are going up, renovations are taking place and expansions are under way. Growth is in the air.
No one knows that better than Joe Davis, director of the Garrison's Directorate of Public Works, and his busy staff, who are charged with managing, overseeing and maintaining the Arsenal's facilities.
"We've got more going on here than I can ever remember," Davis said. "Besides everything we've got going on, other agencies - such as NASA and the FBI - also have construction projects on the Arsenal. Fiscal year 2009 has been a record setting year for construction."
Redstone Arsenal's building boom began in fiscal 2007. Before that boom, a typical year for the public works directorate meant managing $18 million to $20 million in small renovation projects throughout the Arsenal. In fiscal 2008, that number increased to $48 million in new construction put under contract. In fiscal 2009, the amount of new contracts hit a high of $87 million for several large-scale, multiyear construction projects.
"There's no telling what fiscal year 2010 will bring," Davis said. "The number could increase beyond $87 million. The trend is upward. But there is no guarantee until we see how budgets pan out."
While the DPW directly manages $87 million in construction projects, the entire Army and non-Army construction picture at Redstone exceeds $565 million, which includes major facilities being built in support of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations that were put into law in 2005. Based on the projects currently under construction, square footage on the Arsenal will increase by 15 percent by 2011, going from 11.7 million before the building boom to 13.1 million at the end of 2011.
The Garrison is involved with three different types of construction projects. First, there are facilities being built in conjunction with the Corps of Engineers under the military construction program, such as the Von Braun Complex addition for the Missile Defense Agency, and new headquarters facilities for the Army Materiel Command and U.S. Army Security Assistance Command.
Second are the job order contract projects -- the small renovations and facility upgrades -- that are limited to $750,000 for a new construction project and $2 million for laboratory revitalization projects. And third are the $21 million in stimulus projects to upgrade and maintain existing facility systems, such as replacing air conditioning units, and replacing water, sewer and gas lines.
"With those three programs alone right there you've got $569 million in construction. Of that, we have ongoing $424 million of BRAC-related construction," Davis said.
"The issue we are having now is that we've got more and more construction requests with funds in hand than we've ever had before because the Arsenal's mission keeps expanding and there are more agencies with wants and needs."
The Garrison's biggest customers include the Redstone Test Center and its $53.5 million construction project that includes the 126,000-square-foot Rotary Wing Center Hangar Facility at the Redstone Airfield and its new 37,000-square-foot headquarters building on Martin Road; the Missile Defense Agency and its $221.2 million, 840,000-square-foot building at the Von Braun Complex that will be complete in the fall of 2010; the $140 million, 401,000-square-foot Army Materiel Command and U.S. Army Security Assistance Command headquarters; and the $7.2 million, 25,000-square-foot 2nd Recruiting Brigade and its subordinate command, the $1.7 million, 5,000-square-foot 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion.
This construction is all BRAC-related. According to BRAC law, the facilities must be in place and operational by Sept. 15, 2011. The first BRAC-related facilities to open on the Arsenal were the recruiting brigade and recruiting battalion buildings located on the northeast section of the Arsenal near Patton Road. The other projects are in various stages of construction.
"The bottom line is we're on track, we're on schedule to have all these facilities complete and ready for move in prior to the 2011 date," Davis said. "The AMC building will be complete by March 2011 and the Rotary Wing and RTC's new headquarters will be complete by July 2011."
But not all Arsenal construction is directly related to BRAC.
Non-BRAC-related military construction projects (valued at more than $750,000 and requiring congressional approval) include the new 5,000-square-foot Garrison Support Services Center and its sister building for visual information, both on Vincent Drive, now under construction. Also included are a $5 million ongoing renovation of building 5250 (Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space) which is set for completion in September 2010, and a $20 million, 80,000-square foot facility known as the Systems Software Engineering Annex Phase II that will be completed in February 2011. Then, Phase III will add a 37,000-square-foot facility at a cost of $17 million.
"There are other agencies that have their own contracting capabilities," Davis said. "One of those is AAFES, which is building a new Burger King. Then there is the FBI and ATF facilities. The Corps of Engineers has the largest non-BRAC project -- $66 million in construction for the FBI and ATF."
The ATF National Center for Explosives Training and Research, now under construction on Patton Road, will be a $28 million, 83,000-square-foot facility. Plans are also in the works for a $45 million FBI Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center, DIA-MSIC Explosive Ordnance Exploitation Facility, AMRDEC Software Engineering Directorate facility, the Gate 7/Martin Road expansion, and the $500 million, privately invested Enhanced Use Lease project. About $4 million in renovations at Fox Army Health Center are nearing completion and the new 12,400-square-foot U.S. Post Office facility has opened.
Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation has about $8 million worth of construction projects in various stages. Of that, $3 million will go toward building the new Child Development Center on Mills Road and making upgrades to the Youth Center off Goss Road.
The new CDC will provide space for 124 children from ages infant to 4 years old, and 60 children in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs.
"We are trying to provide daycare for the children on our waiting list and the majority of those children are under 4 years old," said Child Youth Services chief Andre Terry. "Our goal is to pull these children from off-post daycare and bring them on post to offer their parents the convenience of having their children only a few blocks away from where they work."
Currently, CDC provides services for 176 children ages infant to 4 in its facility on Goss Road. That area is also home to the recently opened $6 million, 23,000-square-foot School Age Services Building and the Youth Center.
The FMWR projects overseen by the organization's business development and information technology director Francine Stone include everything from a solarium at the bowling alley to campground upgrades to a new conference center near the Officers and Civilians Club.
"These projects are being taken on so that we grow with the influx of people into our Redstone community," she said. "These projects are good for everybody. These are expansions and renovations that everybody can use, and they are coming at the request of our customers. It's not only about expanding our facilities, but also about a better offering of services. These projects will allow us to offer a whole lot more."
FMWR projects include a Redstone Bowling Center Solarium, renovations and a new mission for the Diane Campbell Community Center (formerly recreation center); the new 5,000-square-foot Conference Overlook near the Officers and Civilians Club; the new 5,000-square-foot Outdoor Recreation Complex; a renovated Wellness Center on Digney Road that will be expanded from 3,000 to 8,000 square feet; drainage upgrades and bathroom facilities at the Parade Field; and renovations and improvements to the Post Library, Arts and Crafts Center, Pagano Gym, RV park and Col. Carroll D. Hudson Recreation Area. Most of these projects will be completed in 2010, with the new conference center slated for completion in early 2011.
The Arsenal is also benefitting from a $26.8 million stimulus package that is funding energy-related and quality-of-life projects. Those projects include replacing steam, water and gas lines, and rebuilding an airfield runway and turnaround.
Of the new construction managed by the Garrison, $8.7 million is funding 530 small renovation and improvement projects.
"It's hard to see the magnitude of these projects," Davis said. "But we are managing every one of them, and they will add to the overall services and infrastructure of the Arsenal. We are trying to make sure our infrastructure is in good shape to support the next round of growth."
Before construction can begin on Redstone, agency representatives must meet with the Garrison's Master Planning Office to choose a site.
"The day BRAC was signed four years ago, we started looking at the master plan to see where we were going to fit new buildings into our plan," Davis said. "When you add a building, it has to fit. For example, we offered AMC four different sites that would fit into our master plan.
"In general, the master plan calls for quality of life, training and user-friendly buildings to be located on the northern end of the Arsenal. In the middle of the Arsenal, we have administrative and laboratory buildings, and at the southern end we have explosive operations, storage and testing facilities."
Of course, some of those areas do intermingle, such as the new FMWR child care facility that is being built near administrative facilities along Martin Road, and future plans for restaurants and service-type businesses, also along Martin Road.
"With quality of life, you have to also look at putting service facilities near your largest concentration of administrative space," Davis said.
Working with Davis to manage Redstone's construction projects is a staff of 96 DPW employees and contractors led by Jerry Hinson, chief of the Design and Construction Branch; Keith Cook, chief of the Engineering Division; John Green, chief of Master Planning, and Greg Calvert, chief of Base Operations.
Once the current building boom is complete, Davis' office won't be given a respite. The Directorate of Public Works is also charged with maintaining current facilities and renovating existing buildings.
"Besides our new construction, we are responsible for maintaining and supporting the existing 70 customers on post with all their facility wants and needs," Davis said. "After 2011, we will renovate buildings all around the Arsenal that have been parceled out to tenants here and there.
"Our goal is to keep our buildings maintained up to the current standard so that we can experience energy efficiencies and so that our agencies can recruit the best and brightest. The quality of work space is high on the list of things new recruits want. We also want to be ready for the next round of growth."
Besides growth on the Army side of Redstone, NASA at Redstone is also experiencing tremendous growth in its facilities. Marshall Space Flight Center has six ongoing projects totaling $46 million. In fiscal 2010, another $13 million in construction on three projects will begin and, in fiscal 2011, three projects totaling $54 million will begin, according to Kent Criswell of NASA/MSFC Facilities Planning Group.