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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Navy Exchange Service Command last week began a $15.1 million project to reorganize and enhance the way base residents shop.

“During the next four years there will be drastic changes in the NEX operation,” Sandra Franklin, NEX Sasebo general manager, said Wednesday.

“The new store (main store) will allow for increased selections and consolidate other operations under one roof,” Franklin added.

This is the exchange’s first major investment and construction project at a Japan base, she said. A few years ago, Japan’s government decided it would no longer build facilities on U.S. bases for businesses, the general manager added.

Sasebo’s main base has seven NEX operations; Hario Housing Village, about 10 miles from the main base, has three more.

The entire project began Monday as workers installed fencing to block traffic in an area slated to become home to the NEX Autoport’s 3,200-square-foot, $2.1 million addition. The additions will almost double the size of the establishment.

“The new NEX Autoport/Mini-Mart combination will greatly benefit the afloat sailor,” she said. It “will cut in half the distance they have to walk to get basic personal items.”

The NEX Mini-Mart and an adjacent warehouse will be demolished; the space will house a new $13 million, 58,000-square-foot NEX main store. The expanded Autoport will absorb the Mini-Mart functions.

The Autoport should be done in September, Franklin said. “The new NEX main store construction is due to start early next year, with completion estimated for late in fiscal year 2006.”

Long-range plans call for the existing main store to be demolished to make room for parking.

“After the new store is built, the existing Fleet Store will be renovated,” explained Franklin. “Furniture will move downstairs, the uniform store moves to the second floor, the barber and beauty services move into the existing uniform shop, and our NEX administrative offices will move to the second floor.”

NEXCOM is planning two Hario Housing Village remodels.

“The beauty shop,” she said, “will get a face lift and new equipment.”

“In early ’05, the Hario Home Store will get a face lift including new fixtures and floor tile.”

Before the end of 2004, the Robin Hood restaurant in the Bayside Food Court will be replaced by Subway.

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