Walmart set to open by December

The Walmart store under construction in Princeton should be open by early December, according to Bill Hossalla, superintendent with the project’s general contractor, Shaw Lundquist.

Hossalla said at his construction trailer last Thursday that Wal-mart’s planned date to take possession of the building is Nov. 10 and that the store would open for business 30 days later.

“It’s going good,” Hossalla said, in answer to how the project is going.

The construction site is watched daily by residents as some people commented last week that they hadn’t seen construction work going on there during the last Monday and Tuesday of June.

Hossalla said that was because of remedial work being done to deal with the effects of excess rain. The site is sandy and flat but it “holds water well,” Hossalla said, adding that the water table there is 12 feet down.

“We’re starting to put the roof on next week,” he continued, explaining that it will be a vinyl material and that installation will begin once all the steel decking and joists are in place.

The 120,807 sq. ft. building will have 162 skylights and the parking lot will be able to hold 601 vehicles.

This is the third Walmart that Shaw Lundquist has been the general contractor for, Hossalla said, noting that the contractor made repairs on a fourth Walmart building.

About half the store here, the east part, will have groceries, while the lawn and outdoor living section will be in the building’s west side. Merchandise will take up the space in between, according to Hossalla. The store will have 17 regular checkout counters plus four self-serve type, he said. Asked if he knew of any businesses going into the store, he said there will be a hair salon.

It’s not surprising that any major construction project in Princeton is being followed closely, especially in this economy in which downtown Princeton has about 16 vacancies and where progress in getting new retail has been relatively stagnant. The changeover of the town’s Pamida store to a Shopko hometown store a year or so ago was one move forward.

That fact that the Walmart store will have groceries is a big deal for some who have sought to have more than just one full-size grocery store, which now is Coborn’s.

While the Walmart building under construction is nothing small, Hossalla said it is considered a small store as far as Walmarts go, saying the average size Walmart is 230,000 to 240,000 sq. ft..

Every aspect of the construction of the Walmart in Princeton has a timetable to complete and Hossalla called the project “cut and dried.”

The project has many subcontractors and the one who put up the precast walls accomplished that in eight days, according to Hossalla. Erecting the girders and joists took about two weeks, he noted.

Last Thursday, Princeton Public Utilities Commission manager Dave Thompson showed up at Hossalla’s trailer to tell him that the electrical conduits have been installed. Still to be put in by the PUC will be a step down transformer at or near the site for supplying a 2,500 amp service to the store. That is “pretty big,” Thompson said.

When Shaw Lundquist workers began digging at the Walmart site on April 23, Hossalla commented that a rumor was going around that Wal-Mart Corp. wants the store to be open by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

When Hossalla spoke last Thursday, he said that the original date he had been given for Wal-Mart to take possession of the building was Dec. 20, and then that was moved earlier.

But with the traditional Black Friday start of the holiday shopping season less than 20 weeks away, it could be that the powers that be will find a way to open it by then.

If that happens, it will perhaps be an earlier-than-anticipated test of the town’s retail sector with this added contender for the shopper’s dollar.