Subscribe
This is an artist's rendering of the new commissary to be built in Livorno, Italy. The facility is one of two new grocery stores in the planning stages by the Defense Commissary Agency-Europe.

This is an artist's rendering of the new commissary to be built in Livorno, Italy. The facility is one of two new grocery stores in the planning stages by the Defense Commissary Agency-Europe. (Courtesy of Defense Commissary Agency)

The Defense Commissary Agency plans to break ground — at least ceremoniously — by year’s end on new grocery stores in Chievres, Belgium, and Livorno, Italy.

On behalf of DeCA, the U.S. military recently awarded $23.4 million in construction contracts to two companies, one for each location, according to Gerri Young, spokeswoman for DeCA-Europe. Both facilities should be completed by spring 2009.

The largest and more expensive project is the $16.2 million facility at Chievres Air Base, which supports U.S. personnel assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in nearby Mons. That contract went to Belgian contractor Lixon S.A. of Charleroi, one of two bidders, Young said.

Located on Camp Darby, the Livorno commissary would cost about $7.2 million. The winning bid, one of 12 tendered, was from Cooperativa Muratori Riuniti, a firm that also built the commissary in Vicenza, Italy.

“We are looking forward to providing an up-to-date, modern facility for the community,” said David Hayden, the store director of the Chievres commissary.

While the new Chievres store will be considerably larger than its counterpart in Italy, it will feature some of the same amenities. Like Livorno, the new Chievres commissary will have more floor space, meaning wider aisles and larger display areas.

In a news release, Thomas Milks, director of DeCA-Europe, said the projects “will bring commissary operations in both Chievres and Livorno” to a higher standard “for our military families.”

Livorno has the oldest facility of the two communities.

Built in 1953, the building wasn’t originally constructed to be a grocery store, and hasn’t had a major face-lift since 1991, Young said. Despite its cramped floor space and narrow aisles, the staff in recent years has won several awards, including best small overseas commissary three times, she added.

The new store “is a great opportunity for the community and our patrons,” said Giuseppe Ricci, the Livorno store director.

The commissary on Chievres Air Base, a prefabricated structure, dates to December 1992. For much of that calendar year, personnel were purchasing their groceries out of a huge tent, Young said. Prior to the tent, the store was housed in an old aircraft hanger built around 1950.

Neither of the two new stores will move far from its current location. The Livorno commissary is destined for an empty lot across from the school, about two blocks from the current site. The new Chievres store will be located across the street from the old one, adjacent to the exchange.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up