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Ground broken on massive exchange/commissary project in South Korea

Building pilings stand partially hammered into the ground on Aug. 11, 2014, at the site of the planned Downtown Exchange and Commissary structures at Camp Humphreys, South Korea. Construction is expected to be completed by Feb. 15, 2016.

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Ground was broken Monday for the new Camp Humphreys Downtown Exchange and Commissary, another milestone in the U.S. military’s massive project to relocate most American troops in South Korea to regional hubs south of Seoul.

The “downtown” will cover almost 1.8 million square feet on the ever-expanding installation. More than a dozen small bases are set to close and over 8,000 U.S. Forces Korea-affiliated personnel, including military, civilians, contractors and retirees, are expected to move to the Humphreys area by the end of 2017.

“Quite literally we are standing in an area that will eventually become the heart and soul of our community, and I’m very proud of the effort each and every one of you is putting into making that vision a reality,” said Col. Darin S. Conkright, Camp Humphreys commander.

“Of course, we’re not just breaking ground on what will be the largest commissary and exchange facilities in the Pacific, which, in and of itself, is a major accomplishment, but we’re also breaking ground today on a number of vitally important family and MWR facilities — to include new bowling and recreation centers, as well as a wide variety of soldier and family support structures, all part of what will eventually become our downtown entertainment, recreation and shopping plaza,” Conkright said.

South Korea’s POSCO Engineering & Construction, Ltd. began work June 3 on the new downtown area. It is expected to be finished Feb. 15, 2016, at a cost of more than $140 million.

Nancy O’Nell, a Defense Commissary Agency spokeswoman, said the new commissary will be more than quadruple the size of the current one.

Along with a new main exchange, AAFES says preparations are underway for construction on two mini-malls and two theaters.

“The Exchange is investing in Camp Humphreys,” said Kristin H. McCoy, AAFES Pacific Region commander. “We are excited about the opportunities that exist here to positively impact the quality of life for servicemembers, their families and DoD civilians.”

limon.armando@stripes.com

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