FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Doors opened to the new commissary Wednesday as hundreds of community members lined up to be the first to enter the new facility.

William Grabill, an Army veteran, arrived at 6:30 a.m. to ensure his spot.

"I'm always here to be first in line," he said, adding that he was going to purchase steaks, cooking oil and cheese.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, welcomed the crowd during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"This facility was greatly needed," he said. "There are no more leaky roofs or leaky refrigerators."

Anderson said the new commissary is a core mission support element and a great benefit to Soldiers and their Families.

The 122,964-square-foot facility is the fourth-largest commissary built by the Defense Commissary Agency and features more than 58,000-square-feet of sales area. The new commissary is 50-percent larger than the old building.

"Come shop here," said Anderson, adding that shopping at the commissary saves its patrons 30 percent on average compared to commercial grocery chains.

DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu said his team strived to provide the Army community the best service and best product.

"This is your commissary," he said, thanking the hundreds of patrons who arrived for the commissary opening.

"I came for the sales and to see the new commissary," said Christine Bourque, Family member. "I hope they have more items and more variety than the old facility. There have been times I went to the old store and they didn't have the items I needed."

With 21,000 items stocked, Bourque should be able to find what she needs. DeCA officials estimate that 115,000 Soldiers, Families and retirees use the commissary and they expect those numbers to grow by 6,700 in the next three years. Officials project $60 million in annual sales.

To handle that many customers, the new commissary has 28 checkout registers including eight self-checkout registers.

"This is wonderful," said Alan Harrison as he pushed his shopping cart through the produce section. Harrison, a retired Army veteran, said he was stationed at Fort Carson in 1978, but had never seen such drastic improvements to the commissary.

To meet Fort Carson's net zero goals, the commissary meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards for silver certification. Natural lighting, Energy Star-rated roofing, enhanced freezer and cooler insulation as well as high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are all featured in the new building.