By S.J. Grady
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office
Home alone. It’s not just a movie. It’s how some unaccompanied, enlisted service members are now living, thanks to a newly renovated barracks that puts an end to roommates, shared living spaces and gang latrines.
Instead, this barracks offers occupants the ultimate in privacy; each resident will have his or her own room with kitchenette and bathroom.
Building 2902 on Panzer Kaserne opened its’ doors to Marines and Soldiers March 10. The $5.7 million project includes three renovated floors with 29 rooms for Marines assigned to Marine Forces Europe and Africa, and 15 rooms for Soldiers assigned to the Stuttgart Dental Clinic and the Stuttgart Veterinary Clinic.
“These are probably the best individual rooms I’ve ever come across — the square footage, the individual conveniences, the Wi-Fi and cable — they’re very nice,” said Sgt. Maj. James McCook, the senior enlisted advisor for MARFOREUR/AF, who added that he has seen a lot of barracks in his 29 years as a Marine.
Lance Cpl. Kevin Zastrow, an administrative specialist with MARFOREUR/AF, has not. This is the first duty station for the Oconomowoc, Wis. native. Zastrow spent the first eight months of his tour sharing a room and bathroom with a roommate on Patch Barracks. “It was better than what I’ve had in the past,” he said, referring to the three-man rooms and open bays he occupied during boot camp and subsequent occupational specialty training.
He moved in to the renovated barracks March 12. “It is nice to have a space that is yours,” he said. “We have these walk-in closets that look amazing. It’s the biggest closet I’ve ever had.”
They are a luxury, especially for Germany. “We haven’t had any closets in any barracks until this point,” said Adriana Di Rocco, a housing specialist with the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Unaccompanied Housing Office.
The rooms also come with a kitchenette that is furnished with a sink, two burner cook top, microwave oven and cabinets. The bathroom features a half-tub with shower, mirrored medicine cabinet, sink and toilet.
The rooms are Wi-Fi and cable ready. “We put modems in every room, but the service members will have to go to TKS for the service,” Di Rocco said.
Di Rocco also said the rooms come complete with new furnishings: a couch or armchair (depending on the size of the room), coffee table, desk and chair, entertainment unit, bed, nightstand, coat racks, curtains and carpeting. A six-drawer chest is installed in each closet.
Each floor has a laundry room with two washers and dryers, and a janitorial room with large sinks. In the basement, which was partially renovated, each military unit has storage space for the residents.
There is even an elevator.
The extensive renovations were completed in 12 months and included new electrical, heating, plumbing, fire alarm and fire suppression systems, according to Ismail Engin, an engineer with USAG Stuttgart’s Directorate of Public Works who oversaw the project.
USAG Stuttgart is working to modernize several more barracks to the same standards as Building 2902.
Building 2900 on Panzer Kaserne houses MARFOREUR/AF administrative offices. However, the fourth floor is barracks space. That floor is under renovation and should be completed in July.
Building 2309 on Patch Barracks is currently undergoing renovations and should be completed by October.
Building 3310 on Kelley Barracks is next on the list. The project is in the design phase, with construction set to begin in the fall of this year. Service members living in this barracks will soon relocate to Building 2311 on Patch Barracks while the building undergoes modernization.