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Taking shape

By Staff | Aug 6, 2013

By the end of the year, four Army Reserve units will have a new home base in Cape Coral.

Construction is under way at the Cape Coral United States Army Reserve Center, located adjacent to the new Lee County Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic at Diplomat Parkway and Corbett Road. The site will include a training building, an organizational maintenance shop and a storage building.

The initial completion date for the facility was anticipated to be in September.

Officials estimated Tuesday that it will be finished between October and early December.

“The weather hasn’t been very helpful lately,” Francisco Semsch, the president of FSA Inc., said.

FSA was awarded a joint contract with J. Kokolakis Contracting Inc. for the design and construction.

Col. Joseph Roberts, director of public works for the U.S. Army Reserve’s 81st Regional Support Command, explained that it is not uncommon for projects to run past their tentative completion date.

“It’s very typical to move to the right one or two or three months,” he said.

Because of the holidays, the ribbon cutting could be pushed back to the first of the year.

“This project came about to support a new unit that is already activated,” Roberts said, noting that a new facility is great for soldiers because is provides them with a modern, efficient training ground.

“It’s always good for morale,” he said.

The nearly 38,000-square-foot training building will include offices, classrooms, a miniature gym, a weapons simulations room and a battle assembly area. There will be 1,500 square feet for storage and almost 8,000 square feet of maintenance shop, which military officials have compared to a car shop.

The 365th Engineer Company, the 451st Quartermaster Company, the 810th Military Police Company and the second of the 485th Regiment will be stationed out of site, where they will hone their skills.

According to military officials, the 365th Engineer Company is responsible for things like clearing roads of IEDs and laying mine fields. The 451st Quartermaster Company runs supplies to other units.

The 810th Military Police Company serves as the military police and deals with prisoners of war or POWs, while the second of the 485th Regiment is a “drill sergeant” unit, officials previously reported.

About 325 soldiers will be based out of the center, where an estimated eight soldiers and two or three civilians will be stationed full-time. Three weekends of each month there will be training going on.

“They’re going to have a really well designed training facility that they can really feel proud of,” Semsch said. “A facility where they can increase their capabilities in the military the best they can.”

The site will feature energy efficient equipment, like a high-efficiency air-conditioning system that is self-controlled year-round in accordance with the seasons to consume the least amount of energy. There will be low-flow water fixtures, windows that maximize the natural daylight and solar exterior lights.

The center will have the U.S. Green Building Council’s silver LEED certification.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, address a building’s lifecycle – design, construction, maintenance, operation – and provides third-party verification of green buildings.

“A lot of sustainable products have been used and a lot of recyclable work done,” Semsch said.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $11 million – funds allocated through Congress.

He noted that 90 percent of the funds are going to local contractors and employees.

“It’s a good impact to the local economy,” Semsch said.

Since breaking ground, construction at the facility has run smoothly.

“We have to go through some permits with the city and county. Everybody has been very collaborative,” he said. “The only challenge has been the weather.”

Prior to its official opening, the center will be memorialized by being named after a local soldier.

“We try to do that with every center,” Roberts said. “That’s something we strive to do.”

He anticipated that a name would be selected by the ribbon-cutting ceremony.