Fort Sill Team Opens Updated Shopping Center Amid COVID-19 Challenges
Despite disruptions and restrictions in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fort Sill Exchange team persevered in opening a renovated shopping center for the community June 23.
The nearly-50,000-square foot space features the Exchange’s Military Clothing store, Stripes Alterations, laundry and dry cleaning services, a three-chair barbershop, administrative offices and Qdoba Mexican Eats, as well as warehouse space. The shopping center is scheduled to welcome a dental clinic, a durable medical equipment store and a Sarku Japan restaurant in 2021.
“We faced some challenges with slowdowns and interruptions to the work because of COVID,” said Fort Sill Exchange General Manager Don Walter. “We worked hand in hand with the installation to get this shopping center open for the community as quickly as possible given the circumstances.”
The relocated Military Clothing store is 4,000 square feet larger than the previous one, and the alterations shop is more than 50% larger. For Advanced Individual Training Soldiers, the renovated center is a one-stop shop where they can get their hair cut, buy their uniform and accessories, get it altered and grab a healthy meal.
“The updated center brings greater convenience to the Soldiers, Advanced Individual Trainees and retirees at Fort Sill,” Walter said. “It’s one way the Exchange is strengthening the readiness and resiliency of our troops.”
The renovation took a little over a year and cost $8.7 million. Fort Sill contributed about $3.8 million toward bringing the building up to code, including replacing the roof, upgrading the fire alarm system, repairing electrical components and more. The Exchange funded the remaining $4.9 million. 100% of Exchange earnings are invested in the military community through support for on-base Quality-of-Life programs as well as capital improvements like the renovated shopping center. In 2019, shopping the Fort Sill Exchange generated nearly $938,000 for Quality-of-Life programs in the community.
The building is nearly 30 years old and had not received any substantial upgrades since 1996.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the barbershop and Qdoba will operate at 50% capacity, and all stores and services will follow the recommended health guidelines.