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NEWS | Aug. 12, 2014

Groundbreaking for new 'downtown' area

By Steve Hoover, USAG Humphreys Public Affairs

Ground was broken for the new "downtown" area, featuring a new Exchange, commissary and bowling center among other facilities, here, yesterday.

The project will also see the construction of an auditorium, chapel, chapel family life center, an arts & crafts center, recreation center, plaza and parking.

When completed, these facilities will provide retail shopping, groceries, entertainment, recreation and religious services.

The project, awarded to POSCO Engineering & Construction, Ltd., will cost an estimated $146.7 million, and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.

The theme of "partnership" rang throughout during the groundbreaking.

"Today is a celebration of a partnership between two nations and many agencies, all working together to provide our service members [with] facilities that provide a taste of home," said Steve Pena, general manager, Humphreys and Osan Exchange.

"One of the core values at the Exchange is 'family serving family,'" added Pena. "We are 'family,' and the Exchange is proud to be a part of the Humphreys family."

Pena said that the new Exchange will feature an expanded lineup of the many services and eateries that are already available here, except that when the new facility opens, there are also plans to have an Arby's.

In addition to breaking ground on a new Exchange and several Soldier and family support structures, the future downtown plaza will eventually be home to the largest commissary in the Pacific.

"I'm proud to say that you have a lot to look forward to when these stores are built," said Wayne Walk, Korea and Guam zone manager, Defense Commissary Agency. "It's our goal in the Defense Commissary Agency to make your shopping experience something to look forward to. It's not enough to have a new facility and low prices. Our goal is to provide great customer service on every visit. We're here now to take care of you during the Korea transformation, and we'll be here to serve you and your families when transformation is completed."

According to Defense Commissary Agency officials, the new Camp Humphreys Commissary will be a large, modern 90,000-square-foot store with 23 checkout lanes. The store will also feature extensive produce, meat, grocery, dairy, delicatessen, bakery and frozen foods sections. For comparison, the current commissary is 19,188 square feet with five checkouts.

Although breaking ground on the new facilities is exciting, Col. Darin S. Conkright, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys and Area III, took this opportunity to thank the Humphreys Military Community for bearing with all of the growing pains, whether it is road closures, building moves or traffic bottlenecks.

"Trust me, I know it can be difficult to deal with so much going on in one place," Conkright said. "And yet, it never ceases to amaze me how resilient, flexible and understanding our community remains through these challenging times, as we build today for a better tomorrow."

Other guest speakers at the event were: Republic of Korea Army Brig. Gen. Kang Chang-koo, director general of program management in the Ministry of National Defense USFK Base Relocation Office; Kim Jong-woo, director, USFK Base Relocation Project Management Office, Korea Land and Housing Corporation; Lee, Yong-byung, senior vice president, POSCO Engineering & Construction, Ltd.

Camp Humphreys is currently undergoing one of the largest transformations in Department of Defense history. The vast majority of forces located in the Greater Seoul Metropolitan Area and north of the Han River will move here in the coming years, in accordance with the U.S. and Republic of Korea bilateral agreements.

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