Special guests, the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commanding general, Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, and Col. Jeffrey M. Sanborn, Fort Bragg Garrison commander, took part in a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 1, at the site of the old Noncommissioned Officers Club off Reilly Road.

After five years of planning, the groundbreaking ceremony marked the official start of construction for a new Conference and Catering Center, which will replace the Fort Bragg Club and NCO Club.

Sanborn reminisced about the old NCO Club and said it was one more icon of Fort Bragg’s history, which has faded into the past.

“Today we start the transformation of this well-worn and scarred landscape into something truly special, the Fort Bragg Conference and Catering Center,” Sanborn said.

Michelle Hagwood, Fort Bragg Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation business operations officer said the new center will be a more modern facility with state-of-the-art, energy-efficient capabilities better able to meet the needs of Fort Bragg and the Fayetteville community.

The 49,200 square-foot facility will provide multiple rooms for small meetings and group functions, as well as seat up to 1,200 people in a separate ballroom.

The $17.5 million Conference and Catering Center will take about a year to build. It is planned to open fiscal year 2015, according to Hagwood.