Walmart has submitted building plans at Aberdeen City Hall hoping to gain approval for a nearly $7 million renovation of its store at Olympic Gateway Mall in Aberdeen.
The renovation plans are more extensive than city officials expected, not just expanding out one corner of its building, but demolishing much of the interior and totally reconfiguring nearly every part of the store. The plans provide confirmation that the store intends to build a fully furnished grocery store, similar to what have been called “Super Walmarts” in other communities.
Walmart’s plans say the building will grow by 24,387 square feet — from 129,020 square feet to 153,407. Total cost for the renovation is estimated to be $6.86 million. Walmart already has been making some changes to accommodate the expansion, including now operating 24 hours a day and providing fresh produce.
Aberdeen Building Director Bob Waite said if there are no problems, the permit could be issued in the next three to four weeks, paving the way for construction to start soon after.
The permit does not yet identify a contractor for construction or give a timeline for construction to happen.
Walmart has sought to expand the property since it decided to purchase the land the store sits on from the Port of Grays Harbor in July of 2010. The decision by the Port drew protests and even an information picket by grocery store union workers.
The Friends of Grays Harbor environmental group had successfully appealed the expansion before the state Shorelines Hearings Board last year. The board kicked the permit back to the city for a do-over, adding more trees, improving access to the waterfront trail and improving the general landscape. The Friends of Grays Harbor appealed again, but it was denied, allowing the permit to be issued to Walmart over the summer.
The city had estimated the renovation would cost about $4 million. Aberdeen Finance Director Kathryn Skolrood said the permit fees and sales tax were factored into the city’s 2013 budget. The extra renovations mean a bigger sales tax boom for the city and its cash-strapped general fund, she said; plus extra funds to review the building plans and issue the permit.
A division of corporate Walmart in Bentonville, Ark., submitted the building designs last Wednesday and included a check for $2,200 to do the plan review.
The plans include a 1,335 square foot deli, a 1,415 square foot bakery and a 390 square foot produce section. The grocery section will be located on the left side of the store in relation to the main entrance, which means that the current customer service, portrait studio and even the McDonalds site will all be demolished and replaced with the deli, bakery and grocery aisles. The current clothes and shoes sections will turn into more grocery aisles and a frozen food section.
The dairy and meat sections will be located in the back of the store.
The designs show that the McDonalds restaurant will move to where the current vision center is located near the front of the store and that area will also be completely renovated. Both entrances will be re-vamped with new signage.
The expansion will include a bigger gardening section and contain an improved area for apparel as the rest of the store gets re-configured to make way for the grocery section.
The plans include demolition in the areas currently serving as the pharmacy, the pet section and the garden area. The plans also include a section on energy management, seismic protection, a refrigeration plan and the lighting details.
Waite said the plans remind him of the Walmart store that exists in Shelton. The store will be a bit smaller than the store the company recently built in Tumwater.
Waite notes that a separate plan shows that the store will pave a trail behind the store and raise it for flood control purposes.
The plan also includes emergency access for ambulances under a nearby railroad trestle that could access the site in case the front is blocked in by a train.
Waite said the size of the Walmart remodel was a bit of a surprise to him. Just a couple of years ago, the Aberdeen Walmart underwent a renovation crafting wider aisles and sprucing the store up.
The vision center at the time was totally redone for instance.
These new plans would totally demolish some of those improvements.