STUTTGART, Germany — The decongesting of Patch Barracks continued this week when offices that serve Stuttgart’s incoming and outgoing military personnel were moved to Panzer Casern.

About 40 employees from the housing, transportation and processing divisions moved their belongings last week to their new consolidated home, a remodeled three-story building at Panzer. On Monday, the Stuttgart Welcome Center opened for business.

“The intent is to have one-stop shopping,” said Arno Duchstein, chief of housing for the 6th Area Support Group, which serves the Stuttgart military community.

The move was the first of several designed to make the spacious, woodsy Panzer Casern the services hub for Stuttgart.

A building adjacent to the Welcome Center is being renovated to become home for Army Community Services. A new base exchange, billeting and commissary are scheduled for Panzer, which is about 7 miles south of Patch Barracks.

Patch Barracks, home of the U.S. European Command, has been challenged for years to make space for its various employees, visitors and shoppers as well as their cars. In January, a popular but deteriorating bar was razed to put in a parking lot.

The relocation of housing, transportation and processing frees up two more buildings and parking lots at Patch, where the majority of the 15,000-member Stuttgart Military Community is employed. Patch is also home to the community's junior-senior high school.

“We were packed like sardines over there,” Duchstein said, “but you can only get so many sardines into a can.”

For employees, the new 29,600-square- foot Welcome Center at Panzer is an improvement in several ways over the old, two-building setup at Patch:

There’s central air-conditioning so employees can leave their fans at home.The old building had a kiddie corner for children when their parents were busy dealing with paperwork; the new one has an entire kiddie room.Input from employees, according to transportation officer Ray Eden, helped lead to features such as abundant electrical outlets and big windows which provide lots of natural light.The private offices for housing counselors are also a step up from the cramped cubicles at their former building.For personnel on the move, for example, the out-processing office is on the same floor as SATO Travel to help with travel arrangements and the 560th Military Police Customs to help with customs.“Furnishing, housing, driver’s license — it makes it much better here because everything is in one building,” said Army Staff Sgt. Dianna Price of 587th Signal Company, who on Tuesday was out-processing. “You have more privacy when you talk with a housing counselor.”

As with most new structures, there are some kinks to be worked out.

The thermostat in the computer room wasn”t keeping the computers cool enough and needed to be adjusted. The muddy parking lot needed to be paved and the grounds need to be landscaped.

"It’s like everything — you have to polish off the rough edges,” Duchstein said.

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