ELLSWORTH, Maine — After years of planning, construction is set to begin on the Super Wal-Mart project on Myrick Street.
Wal-Mart officials announced Monday that construction will begin next Monday, Nov. 24.
Crews from Hutter Construction Corp. from New Ipswich, N.H., already have begun moving trailers onto the Myrick Street site.
“We’re mobilizing on site right now and we expect to start digging sometime before Thanksgiving,” Chad Gibson, Hutter’s project manager, said Monday. “We want to start getting the footings in.”
The project is starting late in the season, and Gibson acknowledged the weather could pose some challenges. But he said the company has built other large projects in the winter.
“We have the experience,” he said.
Hutter Construction has 175 employees and, at the peak of the construction, will have as many as 200 people working on the Wal-Mart site, Gibson said. The contractor has built six other Wal-Mart projects previously.
If all goes well, crews should have the nearly 200,000-square-foot building closed in by January, he said. Their portion of the project should be done by the end of July. Wal-Mart generally takes another two months to complete its work inside the building, and the retailer plans an opening in late September or early October 2009.
The new Wal-Mart will be approximately 198,000 square feet in size, according to a statement from the company, and will provide a full range of products and services such as a full grocery store, pharmacy and optical center. Wal-Mart now operates a 94,000-square-foot discount store on High Street in Ellsworth, which will remain open until the new store opens.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to bring a larger store to Ellsworth,” said Philip H. Serghini, senior public affairs manager for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
The 240 employees working at the existing store will automatically transfer to the new store once it opens, and Wal-Mart expects to hire 100-150 new employees to operate the larger store. The average hourly wage for regular full-time employees in Maine is $11.90 an hour. Wal-Mart employs more than 7,700 people in Maine.
“We are very pleased that Wal-Mart has chosen to expand its services here in the city of Ellsworth,” said Ellsworth City Manager Michelle Beal. “Wal-Mart has been an active participant in our community and this expansion guarantees its continuation. This type of retail growth ensures that the city will continue to grow in many areas and become a diverse and sustainable economic entity.”
The Wal-Mart project has been in the planning for a number of years. The store is the keystone of a planned Acadia Crossing shopping center, a 500,000-square-foot, 26-store open-air mall planned for the area. The Home Depot store, which was built on the Myrick Street site several years ago, is also part of that retail development.
At this point, the city has no schedule for the construction of Phase II of the Acadia Crossing development. The Massachusetts-based developer, WS Development, does not yet have a city building permit for that portion of the project, Beal said.