The Nebraska National Guard is poised to begin construction this fall on the largest and most modern armory in its history, in Bellevue.

The new Bellevue Readiness Center will be built on South 25th Street north of Capehart Road, overlooking the Willow Lakes Golf Course.

Col. Shane Martin, the Guard’s construction and facilities management officer, called it a “most gorgeous site.”

At 130,000 square feet and $29 million, it will be only slightly smaller and less expensive than the National Guard’s state headquarters building in Lincoln, which opened in 2012.

The property is actually part of Offutt Air Force Base, on the site of a former housing area. The Guard is leasing 38 acres for 50 years from Offutt authorities.

“I’m thrilled, to tell you the truth,” Martin said. “It’s a great partnership with the Air Force.”

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The new readiness center is slated to be the headquarters to five units, said Maj. Scott Ingalsbe, a National Guard spokesman. One of the units will be the 72nd Civil Support Team, currently based in Lincoln, which helps after natural disasters and aids civilian authorities during major spectator events such as the College World Series.

Also expected to move to Bellevue: an engineer company, a forward support company, a military police detachment and a transportation detachment. They will move from other locations in eastern Nebraska, Ingalsbe said.

Besides that, the center’s size and location will allow it to serve as a staging area for future deployments, said Rep. Don Bacon, whose district includes neighborhoods near Offutt.

Martin said the readiness center will include office space, a drill floor, a large kitchen, maintenance bays for National Guard vehicles and an elevated classroom. Its exterior look will be modern and comparable to the new, and much larger, U.S. Strategic Command headquarters about one mile to the southeast.

Construction funds are coming from the federal government and are expected to be included in the Defense Department’s 2020 budget. Current authorization bills in both the House and Senate include the project, largely through the efforts of Bacon and Sen. Deb Fischer, who served on the Armed Services committees in their respective houses.

It’s still to be seen whether the money will be included in the final spending bill, which is under the authority of the Appropriations Committee in each house. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, whose district includes Offutt, serves on that committee in the House of Representatives and is certain to champion the project. But it hasn’t made the cut the past two years, and could be pushed back again if Congress doesn’t fund it this year.

If the money does come through, Martin said, construction likely will start soon after the beginning of the federal fiscal year on Oct. 1. Construction is expected to take about two years.

Bacon said there is a lot more vacant property where the Offutt housing area used to be.

“There’s a lot of real estate that’s free,” he said. “I envision, and the base envisions, more projects there.”

The Bellevue center is the first major project in Nebraska since the Defense Department spent $258 million in Nebraska and Iowa to renovate or replace outmoded National Guard armories after 9/11.