Fort Bragg officials said there is no end in sight for growth at the nation's largest military installation.
The Department of Defense currently has more than $343 million worth of projects under construction on post and another $699 million in construction projected for the next six years.
"It's continuing to grow every year," said Andrew Spendlove, chief of the master planning division at the Fort Bragg Directorate of Public Works.
On Thursday, Spendlove presented the latest information on Fort Bragg construction projects during a meeting of the Regional Land Use Advisory Commission in Fayetteville.
The commission includes planners and other government officials from Fort Bragg, surrounding counties and municipalities and other organizations with an interest in the changing regional landscape.
The ongoing construction projects are dominated by facilities that will serve the installation's special operations community, but also include a large entertainment complex that was first announced in 2014.
That complex, which will be known as Freedom Crossing at Fort Bragg, will include a movie theater, restaurants and retail.
Spendlove said funds for the complex were recently approved and officials are moving forward on the project.
On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service confirmed the funding for Freedom Crossing at Fort Bragg had been approved and that the project was now in the design phase.
She said $27 million has been budgeted for the project and noted that AAFES has plans for at least two other projects on Fort Bragg. One is a $6.5 million express store in the Yarborough Special Operations Forces Complex off Chicken Road that will go before the AAFES board of directors in January. The other is a Gruber Road mini mall that will cost $8.9 million, but is currently on hold as officials determine the best location for the facility.
Freedom Crossing at Fort Bragg will be built near the North Post Exchange and will be anchored by Movie Tavern, a national theater chain, officials said. It will be open to local troops, their families and visitors to the military installation.
A website for the development lists other potential tenants as Bar Louie, Walk-on's, Walburgers, Chipotle, MOD Pizza, Sarku Japan, Smoothie King and Firehouse Subs.
Other businesses include iFix, Patriot Outfitters, Lee Nail & Spa, Harris Jewelry, Total Nutrition and Great Clips.
Harris Jewelry is currently being investigated by attorneys general of at least 14 states, including North Carolina.
The retailer is accused of using deceptive practices to target service members and max out their credit limits.
AAFES officials said the retailer remains a potential part of the Freedom Crossing project.
"The Exchange cares about our service members and their families and will do right by them," a spokeswoman said. "At this time, Harris Jewelers is being considered as a potential tenant in the shopping center. The Exchange is aware of the allegations against Harris and is monitoring the situation closely."
At the commission meeting, Spendlove demonstrated just how much Fort Bragg has grown since 1985.
In the past 33 years, he said the military has spent $6 billion on new construction alone on post.
Over that same span, the available building space on Fort Bragg has grown from 20.3 million square feet to 53.6 million square feet.
Fort Bragg is currently the largest military installation both by population and by building space.
With more than 54,000 troops, 14,000 civilian workers and expectations for more growth, Fort Bragg is far from having a glut of space, he said. Instead, the need is always rising.
"We're continuing to grow every year," Spendlove said. "There's always new missions, new buildings, new things."
In recent years, most of Fort Bragg's growth has been fueled by the special operations community, with new facilities built or under construction at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School Campus, in the Yarborough Special Operations Complex and at Camp Mackall.
But Spendlove said officials are constantly assessing the needs of Fort Bragg and have a "wish list" of possible future projects ranked by priority.
On the top of that list is a new fire station for Pope Field, which is estimated to eventually come at a cost of $21 million.
Last year, the Observer wrote that conditions at the current fire station on Pope Field had fallen into disrepair.
Spendlove said the Army does not provide enough money to cover all of Fort Bragg's maintenance needs and said officials must weigh how best to use the maintenance funding that is provided.
He also noted that overall numbers for military construction across the Army are dwarfed by the needs of the force.
To that end, Spendlove said officials are constantly assessing the current and future needs of Fort Bragg.
Fort Bragg's "wish list" of 24 possible future projects include $788 million worth of construction that will address some of those needs.
They include upgrades for the airfield at Camp Mackall, so the satellite installation can serve as a backup to Pope Field; new tactical equipment maintenance facilities for several Fort Bragg units; new barracks; an extension of the All American Parkway to Butner Road and improvements to roads in Fort Bragg's vast training areas.
This article is written by Drew Brooks from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.