Base exchange makeover may be complete by February



by Kimberly L. Wright
Air University Public Affairs


11/12/2010 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Shoppers have a few more months to wait before construction ends at the Maxwell base exchange.

The year-long, $8.5 million renovation projects are drawing to a close, with an expected end date of February for the entire complex, reported Patricia Austin, general manager of Maxwell AFB/Ft. Rucker Consolidated Exchange.

With the exception of the central checkout area, renovations to the base exchange main store will be finished before Thanksgiving, and central checkout will be completed right after Christmas.

The main store is increasing the sales floor by 15-20 percent, with the annex moving back into the store to make it a one-stop shopping experience, said Michael Peters, base exchange visual merchandiser and public affairs representative. They hope to have the main store sales floor done in time for the Holiday Extravaganza and Fair, which starts Monday.

Furniture and appliances should be moving to the store by the end of month. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the main store opens at 3 a.m.

"We're going to try to have everything in place by then," Mr. Peters said.

Fried chicken lovers may get an early Christmas present from the food court. Ms. Austin expects the new eatery Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen to be open before Dec. 25. Other eateries in the temporarily closed food court -- Charley's Steakery, Taco Bell and Robin Hood/Anthony's -- are scheduled to open right after Christmas. In addition, a coffee shop will be located just to the left of the front door of the base exchange.

The food court has been closed since early September to facilitate the renovations, which include ceiling-to-floor modernization of the facilities, the addition of Popeyes and Taco Bell, and the blending of two eateries - Robin Hood and Anthony's. To make way for all of the alterations, the food court "had to be demolished," said Mr. Peters.

While the food court is closed, mobile food vendors have been plying their trade in the base exchange parking lot to provide a dining stop-gap for the lunchtime crowd.

In addition to the renovations, the initial construction of Gamestop, a video game retailer, is already under way in the mall area, said Mr. Peters.

"We will continue to work on the mall throughout the Christmas season," Ms. Austin said.

"The transformation is startling," said Mr. Peters.

AAFES plans to have a grand reopening of the base exchange once a more concrete end date is set for the remaining construction, said Ms. Austin.