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Fort Gordon Post Exchange project awarded to Carothers Construction Inc.

Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 7:32 PM
Last updated 10:52 PM
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Ben Logan opened his computer Thursday afternoon to an announcement military families have long awaited at Fort Gordon.

The Mississippi businessman’s company, Carothers Construction Inc., had been awarded a $21 million contract to renovate the nearly 20-year-old Post Exchange at Fort Gordon into a more spacious and modern shopping complex.

“We are very appreciative and excited about the project,” Logan said in a phone interview.

The Army & Air Force Ex­change Service accepted Carothers’ project bid, close to $12 million below original estimates. Carothers Construction, based in Oxford, Miss., beat out four competitors: two from Michigan and one each from South Carolina and Alabama. It endured a two-month procurement process to win the 20-month project, which at times officials were worried might be scrapped because of looming budget cuts.

Stefan Marks, the general manager of the Fort Gordon Post Exchange, said Carothers was chosen because its proposal was determined to be the “most advantageous” to Fort Gordon.

“Their offer fit the bill best,” Marks said.

Logan said Carothers has not worked at Fort Gordon. The company Web site shows it has been approved to renovate a $29.8 million operations center at Fort Jackson; expand a $16.7 million commissary at Fort Rucker, Ala.; and build an $11 million paved training area at Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga.

Marks said a pre-construction meeting will be held Wednesday at Fort Gordon to discuss the course of the project. When completed in fall 2015, Marks said, the new exchange “will have an impact on all trades.” It will nearly double in size from 98,000 to 177,000 square feet.

By the end of the year, builders are expected to begin construction, blasting out walls along the northern and western boundaries of the old shopping center.

The interior will be rearranged for an interconnected grid of cafés, shops and merchandise displays. The food court will be moved from the east to the west side and will have two new eating choices.

The shopping area will be divided into three sections – entertainment, casual living and housewares – and aisles and hallways will be widened for the carts of vendors. The trading post’s auxiliary location will be combined with the main exchange on Third Avenue and almost double the size of its stockroom.

“This project, which I consider my Field of Dreams project, is long overdue for the Fort Gordon military community,” Marks said. “We will build it, and they will come.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Fort Gordon Post Exchange facts:

• Nationwide, the U.S. Army & Air Force Exchange Service is a $10 billion industry that’s larger than Starbucks, Office Depot and Dillard’s.

• The local exchange netted more than $8 million in earnings in 2012, thanks to an exemption from sales tax and an average merchandise price that is 25 percent less than department stores off Fort Gordon, receipts show.

• The Fort Gordon Post Exchange has 22 permanent shopkeepers, six vending operations and four food providers. In addition, the exchange normally has 10 to 12 short-term cart concessions under limited contract.

Sources: Army & Air Force Exchange Service


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