Beaufort News

Navy selects Charleston contractor to build air station fitness center

This rendering shows what the new $12.9-million fitness center at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort will look like.
This rendering shows what the new $12.9-million fitness center at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort will look like. Special to the Packet/Gazette

A Charleston contractor was tapped this week by the Navy to build a $12.9 million fitness center at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

Hightower Construction Co. won the government contract for the 47,800-square-foot structure.

A start date for construction on the multi-story building has not been set, but the work is expected to be completed by May 2013, said Sue Brink, spokeswoman for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast in Jacksonville, Fla.

Hightower was chosen among three other bidders, Brink said. She declined to name the other contractors, citing Defense Department procurement policy.

Jamie Kilgallen, Hightower's executive director of corporate development, said the company is excited about winning the contract.

"It's a very cool building," Kilgallen said. "This is a 50-year-old company, and one of our most prized customers for the last half-century has been the Navy and the Marine Corps."

Col. Brian Murtha, the air station's commanding officer, said the new center will help keep Marines and sailors in shape for future deployments.

"To ensure they are properly prepared to support and defend our country, the Marines place great emphasis on physical fitness," Murtha said. "The new fitness facility at MCAS Beaufort will be instrumental in preparing our warriors for future battles and the continued protection of the United States."

The center will be built between the base's cafeteria and its Afterburners restaurant and bar, air station officials said.

The work will coincide with several other construction projects planned for the base. The air station is to undergo a $351.8 million makeover during the next five years to house the F-35B, which will replace the F-18 Hornet. The air station broke ground last month on a hangar and training facility to house and train pilots to fly the new Joint Strike Fighter, scheduled to arrive in 2014. Florida contractor Hensel Phelps won the bid for that $70 million project, which is expected to be completed by September 2013.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at

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