Space at future Fort Bragg entertainment complex nearly filled


(Photo: AAFES HQ, Lt. Col. Antwan Williams)

A multi-million dollar dining, shopping and entertainment complex set for Fort Bragg is still months away from construction, but officials said the complex is already nearly completely leased.

The complex — Freedom Crossing at Fort Bragg — will be built near the North Post Exchange and is 94 percent pre-leased, according to Rena Arnold, national leasing director for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, which oversees retail development on military installations.

Future tenants for the complex — which will be anchored by an 11-screen movie theater — include Smashburger, Chipotle, Bar Louie, Phillips Seafood, MOD Pizza and Great Clips, among other restaurants and stores.

In all, there will be space for 18 businesses in three strip malls near the theater and outdoor dining areas.

Officials have previously said the project is estimated to cost between $21 million and $23 million.

During a town hall-style meeting last month, Fort Bragg leaders said the project was awaiting approval from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. It also would require congressional approval.

Officials with AAFES expect to break ground on the project no sooner than April.

“A firm date for groundbreaking has yet to be determined, but we do anticipate that announcement coming late this year or early next,” Arnold said. “We look forward to bringing a great amenity to the on-post soldiers, their families and our retirees.”

Fort Bragg officials said the project has received letters of support from community leaders in neighboring Spring Lake and Fayetteville.

But not all locals are happy to see competition built on post.

“Theater owners aren’t thrilled,” Fort Bragg’s deputy garrison commander, Justin Mitchell, said during the August town hall.

Mitchell said the entertainment complex would be open to Fort Bragg troops and families, as well as to anyone from the surrounding communities who can get a visitor’s pass onto the installation.

AAFES officials have previously said they hoped to have the complex open by the end of 2018.

The project was announced in 2014 and is modeled after a similar complex at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The 85,000-square-foot retail center is expected to create about 450 civilian jobs on post and create a space to host various programmed events throughout the year. In Texas, the center hosts a free summer concert series and other family friendly events.

The complex is expected to be anchored by Movie Tavern, a theater franchise offering first-run films, reserved seating and full menu and bar that can be served to patrons’ seats.

Other businesses committed to the project include Camille’s Ice Cream, Muscle Maker Grill, Sarku Japan, Patriot Outfitters, Firehouse Subs,Total Nutrition, Harris Jewelry, Lee Nails & Spa and Smoothie King.

By Drew Brooks, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.

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©2017 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.