By Julie M. Lucas
NAS Jacksonville Public Affairs
NAS Jacksonville will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of its new commissary store Feb. 2 at 8 a.m. Following the event, the store will be open for commissary patrons.
"We are literally bursting at the seams in the old store and are looking forward to the new building," said former store director Larry Bentley.
"This new store will enhance the quality of life for our warfighters, retirees, and family members."
Ground was broken for the new site in February 2015 and construction coincided with additions beings made to the Navy Exchange (NEX).
The new store boasts a sales floor with 64,000 sq. ft. which is 18,000 sq. ft. larger than the old store. It also has a second floor mezzanine for office and training space, that the old store lacked.
The new shopping aisles have room for nearly three carts to pass down each row.
During the first week of December, food brokers came in to help stock the new store and install barcodes and pricing information. NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Sean Haley greeted the approximately 100 workers and thanked them for their assistance in getting the new store ready.
"It's great to see the new, wider aisles and products on the shelves," said Haley.
"We are very excited about the new store and are anxiously awaiting this grand opening."
Other new features include a larger seafood station, expanded bakery and a natural and organic section.
NAS Jacksonville's Commissary will be the second Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) store to have a dry, frozen and fresh organic section.
Base leadership toured the new store Dec. 15. The group saw everything from the new meat lockers to the roof.
"I was in absolute awe of the facility and the many amenities being offered in the new commissary," said Carolyn McCorvey, NAS Jax Fleet and Family Support Center director.
"From the state-of-the-art equipment, to the store decor, customers are in for a wonderful and shopping experience in this store."
One of the other new features of the store are 275 new shopping carts including two Caroline's Carts, for special needs children.
Shoppers will not have to push around a wheelchair while maneuvering a shopping cart thanks to this feature.
The new building is also a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified silver energy efficient facility.
There are 158 skylights to direct the natural Florida sunshine in the store, as well as traditional lighting for overcast days and evenings.
After all merchandise is removed from the old store in March, it will immediately be torn down for more parking creating 503 parking spaces for NEX and commissary patrons.
The commissary project fell under a $30 million contract but according to Bentley there was no additional cost to the government.
"That small 5 percent surcharge you see at the bottom of your bill helped fund this new facility," he said.
The current NAS Jax Commissary will be closed Feb. 1 in preparation of the grand opening of the new store.