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(Enlarge) Garrison leaders join AAFES officials at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Exchange: Robert Reed, project manager; Larry Ronke, store manager; Jonathan D. Bright, Exchange general manager; Deputy Garrison Commander John Moeller; Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas J. Latter; and T.J. Singh, director of the Directorate of Public Works.

Fort Meade garrison leaders joined officials representing the Army and Air Force Exchange for a ceremonial groundbreaking on Tuesday for the new AAFES Exchange.

The ceremony marked the official beginning of the project as Walbridge, the general contractor, received its "notice to proceed" on the $26 million contract to build a new shopping center on Fort Meade.

The new facility will be built at the site of the current parking lot. Construction is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2014.

The Exchange will remain open during construction, said general manger Jonathan D. Bright, who also encourages patrons to shop online on the Exchange website.

"Customers should keep in mind they can still purchase items on shopmyexchange.com," he said. "These items can be delivered straight to their home."

The PXtra is now closed. Sporting goods, toys and seasonal items have been moved to the Exchange.

Appliances and bulk furniture are no longer on display. These items are also available on shopmyexchange.com.

Phase one of the project will focus on demolishing the PXtra and the construction of a temporary parking lot.

The new 167,000-square-foot Exchange will provide more services than the current 130,000-square-foot facility, including a larger food court with six food vendors and a pharmacy.

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