By Ms. Brittany Carlson (IMCOM)January 25, 2010
STUTTGART, Germany -- Last year was a year of breaking ground, but this is a year of cutting ribbons.
In 2009, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart leaders dug their shovels into fresh dirt to begin several new construction projects, including the Kelley Barracks Shoppette and Child Development Center, and the Panzer Hotel on Panzer Kaserne.
Since then, construction workers and project managers have worked to finish these new buildings, and, in 2010, community members will get to see the fruits of their labor.
Construction on the $34.5 million Panzer Hotel, funded by the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Headquarters' Army Lodging department, began in January 2009.
It is anticipated to be completed in early June and open for guests around Sept. 1, according to Dave Roach, Kelley Hotel manager and future manager of the Panzer Hotel.
The hotel project is managed by the USAG Stuttgart Directorate of Public Works, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the German construction agency, SHBA (Staatliches Hochbauamt Reutlingen).
It is designed to meet anti-terrorism/force protection standards, as well as the highest project standard, the LEED Sustainable Project Gold Standard Rating, according to Norm Seare, DPW project manager and general engineer.
The Panzer Hotel will house 218 hotel rooms - including 69 standard rooms, 84 extended rooms and 65 family suites - on seven floors, Seare said.
A few sample rooms are already finished, and received a visit by Gen. Carter F. Ham, U.S. Army Europe commander, on Jan. 21.
Ham could only find one issue: "The problem is, people aren't going to want to leave," he said.
He was also impressed with the plan for an indoor fitness room, breakfast area by the lobby and variety of rooms, including pet-friendly rooms and family suites.
"This will give families, as they join this community, a very positive first experience," Ham said, "and we all know how important that is."
Ten rooms will follow the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines for full handicap accessibility, said Roach, hotel manager.
In addition, all rooms will have kitchenettes, and some will have cooktops, a feature Roach believes will be a hit.
"It gives people coming here with families, or for an extended period of time, more options to cook in the rooms and have family-style meals," he said.
Each room is also equipped with an energy-saving motion detector that turns the temperature to a predetermined setting after an hour of no activity in the room, or when a window is tipped open, Roach said.
The Panzer Hotel is the first in USAG Stuttgart to be fully air-conditioned, and to meet 100 percent of the new Army lodging standards, he added.
The new hotel will allow the Hilltop Hotel on Robinson Barracks to close in June and the Swabian Inn on Patch Barracks to close shortly after the the Panzer Hotel opens, Roach said.
Even so, more newcomers to the garrison will have the option of on-post lodging, he added.
"This [hotel] will help bring folks in from German hotels, right here to base," Roach said.
Once the construction fence is lowered, the hotel will be accessible from a pedestrian bridge running from Haarde Street (in front of the chapel) to the hotel's third floor, and by the road in front of the Panzer Main Exchange. This road will connect to the hotel's main entrance and parking lot.
Besides offering a variety of rooms, the hotel will also offer close to 65 jobs for hotel staff, Roach said.
When the staff and furnishings are in place, Roach will take his place as the Panzer Hotel manager. For now, however, he's simply enjoying the process.
"I'm most proud of the fact that I've been on this project since it was conceived," he said. "Since 2005, we've submitted paperwork and seen it go from concept to paper to concrete. Doing all the planning, getting it rolling, then watching the building come up: that's the fun part."
Construction on the new Kelley Shoppette began in July 2009, and is scheduled to be finished in the beginning of February, said Mehretab Goitom, the DPW project manager for the shoppette.
The $750,000 project is funded by U.S. Africa Command and the Stuttgart Army and Air Force Exchange Service. DPW and SHBA also manage this project.
It will replace the old shoppette in Building 3312, across from the Subway restaurant, in order to offer added convenience to patrons on Kelley in its new location: next to the gas station.
The facility is expected to be ready for shoppers at the ribbon cutting ceremony in early March.
Once completed, the shoppette will contain 2,800 square feet of basic groceries, car care necessities and convenience items, including a "snack avenue" containing more on-the-go food options, said Frank Niccoll, AAFES general manager.
The small "island shack" that currently controls the gas pumps will be shut down, and the shoppette will take over gas operations, Niccoll added.
When complete, the Kelley Shoppette will be open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Construction on the new $5 million Kelley Barracks Child Development Center began in July 2009, and is scheduled to finish this June, Seare said. The CDC project, also managed by DPW, the Corps of Engineers and SHBA, is one of four new CDCs currently being constructed in U.S. Army Europe.
Once in operation, the center will accommodate approximately 100 children up to 5 years old.
The CDC's building plan is also ADA-compliant (for full handicap accessibility) and environmentally friendly, with a solar water heater and several trees nearby to provide natural shade.
"We went out of our way to make sure we kept as many trees around the building as possible," Seare said.
However, the CDC's most admired feature from the children's point of view is the new outdoor playground, Seare said.
"We've had some parents standing outside, with their kids saying: 'Mommy, when do I get to go in''" he added.