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WIESBADEN, Germany — The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract for the design and construction of the U.S. Army Europe Command and Battle Center on Wiesbaden Army Airfield, seemingly ending any speculation that the Army’s European headquarters would remain in Heidelberg.

The $125 million contract was awarded to M+W Zander Israel, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District news release.

The battle center is the latest in a flurry of construction projects under way at and near the airfield. Those include a $32 million Army lodge, an $8.8 million entertainment center and a $133 million housing area where up to 324 townhouses, duplexes and single-family homes will be erected adjacent to the airfield.

“Plans to consolidate U.S. Army Europe headquarters in Wiesbaden have not changed, and the award of the contract for construction of the Command and Battle Center facility is a major step forward,” U.S. Army Europe spokeswoman Hilde Patton said.

The three-story, 285,000 square-foot center will include the latest communications and planning equipment for a U.S. military facility in Europe, Army Corps officials said.

A three-story parking garage is also planned as part of the project.

Work is scheduled to begin immediately, with construction expected to be completed in the next three years, according to the Army Corps.

Although it is anticipated that USAREUR’s move to Wiesbaden will begin once the new battle center is complete, Patton said the timing of the move is dependent on congressional approval of future construction, further host-nation notifications and operational commitments.

The Army has planned since at least 2004 to move USAREUR headquarters to Wiesbaden as part of reducing the American military presence in Europe. But Heidelberg Mayor Eckart Würzner has been petitioning the United States for the last two years to keep the headquarters in its current location, where it has been since 1945.

Würzner said the new contract does not mean the Army will move out from Heidelberg.

“We have to wait and see if the new U.S. Army Europe Command and Battle Center simply points at an expansion of the U.S. Army location in Wiesbaden,” he said during a telephone interview Monday.

Plus, moving 30,000 Americans out of the Heidelberg-Mannheim area would cost much more, Würzner said.

“The essential question is will the U.S. put Heidelberg on their base closure list?” he said. “At this time, Heidelberg is not on this list. We still have hope.”

The consolidation of U.S. Army Europe, along with the 5th Signal Command, 66th Military Intelligence Brigade and other support units at the airfield, is expected to add 4,000 troops, civilians and family members, bringing Wiesbaden’s total military population to 17,000.

Stars and Stripes reporter Marcus Klöckner contributed to this report.

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