JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
After years of planning and construction, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service opened its new Exchange shopping center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston April 15.
The new 210,000-square-foot Exchange center, located on Funston Road, which includes the main exchange, held a limited-size ribbon-cutting opening.
Cutting the ribbon on the shopping center were Brig. Gen. Caroline M. Miller, 502d Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio commander; Jason Rosenberg, Exchange chief operating officer; Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Osby, Exchange senior enlisted advisor; Jesse Martinez, Exchange Central Region senior vice president; Antonio Porter, Exchange Central Region vice president; Eddie Devlin, Exchange general manager; and Tammar Tracey, Exchange store manager.
“What an awesome day,” Miller said. “I was an Air Force brat and now, having served 28 years, the Exchanges have always felt like home. This Exchange is the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen in all my years. It’s just absolutely gorgeous. To everyone that made this happen, thank you.”
The new $54 million Exchange shopping center replaces the former Exchange building, located at Henry Allen and Winfield Scott roads, which was built in 1971 and last renovated in 2010. The old Exchange center will be demolished to make room for an additional 800 parking spaces for the new Exchange shopping center.
The shopping center is a joint venture among the Exchange, the Air Force and Army Medical Command, with the Exchange – not taxpayers – funding most of the project.
“The Exchange is family serving family, and this modern store allows the Exchange to serve our JBSA-Fort Sam Houston family even better than before,” Osby said. “This store is a symbol of our dedication to meeting the needs of all who call JBSA-Fort Sam Houston home.”
Eight restaurants are housed in the food court and the mall area consists of seven specialty stores, a beauty shop, barbershop, pharmacy, dental clinic and optical and optometry stores. The optical and optometry stores, which moved from their location at the former commissary building, opened March 29. The pharmacy opened for operations Feb. 1, followed by the dental clinic March 9.
The new Exchange shopping center will also have more energy-efficient upgrades, including LED lighting and skylights throughout the entire building and will provide jobs for approximately 500 employees, permanent and temporary.
Customers and employees at the new Exchange are expected to follow COVID-19 guidelines, including wearing masks and social distancing. Social distancing decals are located on floors where lines form and there are clear shields at points of sale and at cash registers. Additionally, sanitation stations are available at the entrance of the Exchange and throughout the building.
“This store is beautiful and by far the biggest one I’ve ever seen,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Dever, who is assigned to JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. “There’s a huge retirement community here so this is going to be great for them. And it’s for sure a morale booster for the troops stationed here. A definite taste of home.”
(Editor’s note: Information for this article was provided by David DeKunder, 502nd ABW Public Affairs; and Chris Ward, AAFES Public Affairs)