KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Construction to expand the crowded Ramstein commissary by nearly 50 percent is under way, but the project will take nearly two years to complete.

The commissary is scheduled to remain open throughout the renovation, though store operations are expected to move to a temporary adjacent facility about midway through construction in October, said DeCA Europe spokeswoman Leslie Brown. Store hours will remain the same throughout the work.

DeCA hopes to maintain the same inventory selection during construction, but Brown said there may be less varieties of each item available during certain project phases.

The work is the first major overhaul of the commissary since it was built in 1983 and is designed to improve the shopping experience in a store deemed too small to meet current customer demand, DeCA officials said.

The store is Europe’s busiest, as sales and customer counts have risen dramatically over the past eight years, Brown said. On average, the commissary has 96,000 sales transactions a month, Brown said.

The $49.3 million project will expand the sales area from about 30,000 square feet to 44,000 square feet. Overall, the facility will grow from about 81,000 square feet to more than 106,000 square feet, according to DeCA officials.

The completed store will include new deli, bakery and produce departments, more display space, additional checkout lanes, new customer restrooms, and a larger freeze storage area.

Parking will also be reduced during construction, from a current 361 spaces to a low of 243 spaces. To ease the crunch, employee parking has been relocated to the former base exchange parking area. By the project’s end, there will be 449 spaces, Brown said.

The contract for the project was awarded in October by the German Construction Office LBB Trier to Joint-Venture Budau/Zecker/Becker, according to an Air Force news release.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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