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Post exchange construction loses 40 days to winter

The $22 million expansion of Fort Gordon’s Post Exchange lost nearly 40 construction days this winter, but the project’s manager said Wednesday the new facility should be ready well ahead of significant job growth expected on post.

Though Post Exchange expansion was announced nearly three months before the Army decided to relocate its Cyber Command to Fort Gordon, local military leaders characterize the two projects as “blessings” that overlap nicely.

The Post Exchange is expected to nearly double in size from 98,000 to 177,000 square feet by September 2015, while the fort will grow by 4,000 jobs and 5,620 families over the next five years with the consolidation of the Army Cyber Command, creation of a new Cyber Center of Excellence and growth of cyber mission units.

“Its perfect timing,” said Stefan Marks, general manager of the Fort Gordon Post Exchange.

The only thing not perfect were harsh winter conditions, including an ice storm for the ages.

Carothers Construction, the Mississippi-based contractor hired in September to renovate the nearly 20-year-old Post Exchange, lost at least 38 construction days between December and February, 21 more than its contract allowed, said project manager Jay Dinielli.

“We are a little behind schedule, but we are picking up speed by making the job site available seven days a week to the 70 workers we have spread between nine subcontractors on the project,” Dinielli said. “My door is always open.”

On Wednesday, Dinielli had 20 pieces of earth-moving equipment and mechanical lifts working on Phase 1 of the project, which consists of $15 million in new construction on more than two-thirds of the renovated Post Exchange.

Included in Phase 1, which is expected to be complete in August, are the facility’s warehouse, food court, outdoor living area, toy section and administrative offices.

Once Phase 1 construction is complete, the new food court will be opened to customers and Carothers will begin phases two through six, each of which is expected to last six months.

Phase 2 through 4 consist of retail areas in what is now the food court.

Phase 5 is the exchange’s mall and commodity space. Phase 6 includes concessions and vendors.

Marks said Fort Gordon was always projected to grow, but that the Air Force and Army Exchange Service did not have solid projections to estimate by when it hired Carothers.

He said it is exciting to see it all come together.

“Our old location was an inconvenience for Fort Gordon soldiers,” Marks said. “They had to visit four different registers to make everyday purchases. This will make everything a one-stop shot. It’s long overdue.”

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