Kaiserslautern exchange opening delayed again
Stars and Stripes August 16, 2009
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — While the second phase of the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center opened to the public Saturday, continued construction woes have again delayed the opening of its centerpiece.
U.S. Air Forces in Europe officials said that the center’s massive base exchange, which will replace the exchanges on Ramstein and Vogelweh, is now slated to open Sept. 21. It was previously scheduled to open Sept. 15. The new exchange will be 2½ times larger than the post exchanges in Grafenwöhr or Stuttgart, currently the largest in Germany, according to Army and Air Force Exchange Service personnel who will run the store.
The exchange’s opening will be the third and final phase of the 844,000-square-foot KMCC. The first phase opened July 2 and includes a Romano’s Macaroni Grill, German bakery, Ramstein Outdoor Recreation office, Ramstein Tickets & Tours travel office, car rental agency and a 350-room hotel. The second phase includes a food court, four-screen movie theater and smaller stores.
“The 15th was a strong target date. The 21st is now it. It is based on construction details,” USAFE spokeswoman Darlene Cowsert said of the exchange’s opening.
Cowsert said the new date has nothing to do with concerns that opening the exchange could affect the Ramstein Officers’ Spouses 45th Annual Club Bazaar, which will be held Sept. 17-20.
The opening was pushed back because parking would be impacted by ongoing construction including roof work until at least the third week in September, Cowsert wrote in an e-mail. Also, paver work around the AAFES Garden Center had to be pushed back because the contractor that was hired to do it “defaulted.” That work will now be completed by Sept. 21.
According to Landesbetrieb Liegenschafts-und Baubetreuung Rheinland-Pfalz, the German state construction agency overseeing the project, the company doing the 4,300 square feet of paving work by the garden center, went bankrupt. VT Generalbau is now doing the work.
The paver issue is the latest in a string of construction problems that have plagued the project. Work on the facility’s green roof that had to be redone and other faulty construction also pushed back the KMCC’s opening.
AAFES officials said the delay means that Sept. 20, not Sept. 14 as previously planned, will now be the last day the exchange at Vogelweh will be open. The final day for Ramstein’s two theaters, the Nightingale and Hercules, to show movies will be Sept. 14.