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Twentynine Palms, California
Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
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Gregory McAlexander takes a break from shopping to play a round of Guitar Hero at the arcade located inside the Marine Corps Exchange April 13. The arcade features 16 games of various types and play.

Photo by Cpl. Andrew S. Avitt

Two years of planning bares new commercial services on base

16 Apr 2010 | Cpl. Andrew S. Avitt Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

New commercial businesses and services are opening around the Combat Center to provide service members with alternative options for dining, shopping and entertainment.

Food vendors setting up shop include Charley’s Grilled Subs and Ali Baba Kabobs, both of which opened April 15; a drive-thru coffee kiosk opening in May; Di Carlo’s Italian Cafe opening in July; and plans for an Extreme Pita are on the horizon.

Stores and entertainment new to the base include a General Nutrition Center and a Game Stop, which opened April 16. A Marine Mart, located across the street from Carl’s Jr., is also open for business.

The base arcade, located inside the Marine Corps Exchange, was also added a few months ago to entertain shoppers.

The businesses are selected from Marine Corps Community Services surveys taken by service members and dependents, said Katherine Catlin, the MCCS director here.

“It has taken about two years to work out the foundation of bringing new businesses here,” said T.C. Dowden, the head of procurement and contracting for MCCS, from Cromwell, Ind. “Trying to find available space on base isn’t the easiest thing to do.

“We have about five pounds of sugar in a four-pound sack,” he said, comparing the number of stores to the amount of store space.

Recycling unused space has allowed the Combat Center to keep the number of services offered constant, if not growing.

Subway was one case. After leaving the Combat Center, it wasn’t long before another sandwich shop was slated to open in the same location.

“Being thrifty is key,” Dowden said, admitting creativity is needed when recycling space aboard the Combat Center. “The arcade use to be a command video store, and GNC used to be a clearance section for the PX. By moving the clearance section into the PX, room was allowed for another business to come and offer their services.”

Companies also have the option to build on military installations using the Public Private Venture program, which allows businesses to open their stores for a predetermined amount of time, usually between 25 and 30 years, before turning the building over to the installation for government use.

“That’s about the only way to bring new businesses on base, besides offering available space, which is, more often than not, limited.”

To find out more information about stores coming to Twentynine Palms or about MCCS visit

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms