An artist's rendering shows the front of the Wal-Mart store planned for Kenai.
Giant retailers Wal-Mart and Lowe's Home Improvement Centers have trimmed back the size of their stores planned for Kenai, but the presence of actual plan drawings in Kenai City Hall indicates enhanced shopping opportunities for Kenai Peninsula residents are not far off.
A little over two years ago, Wal-Mart announced plans to build a 235,000-square-foot supercenter behind Kenai Chrysler Center. Plans now indicate a store of 210,799 square feet.
Gone from the conceptual plan is a six-bay tire and lube express shop and gas station, but four "out lots" that could accommodate those amenities remain on the plan.
About three months after Wal-Mart's announcement, Lowe's said it was coming to town with a 139,000-square-foot store and 32,000-square-foot garden center across Marathon Road from the new Wal-Mart.
Now Lowe's plan has been scaled back to a 109,872 square-foot store with a 93,689 square-foot sales floor. The plan for the outdoor garden center remains at 31,659 square feet.
No construction or store opening dates have been set yet, but city officials now say the plans have been received at city hall, the firms will be soliciting contractors for building cost bids, and work could begin as early as this spring.
Tom Adams, a representative for Lounsbury and Associates Inc. of Wasilla, the engineering firm developing both projects, is slated to update the Kenai City Council on the progress of the work Wednesday night.
The Wal-Mart store, which will face west toward Marathon Road, will include four out lots, two along Marathon and two along the Kenai Spur Highway.
A garden center will wrap around the northwest corner of the building and space inside is earmarked for a Subway eatery, according to the engineering plans.
The property is to be landscaped with Colorado green spruce, Siberian larch, paper birch, Canada red chokecherry and columnar Swedish aspen trees, as well as assorted shrubs.
The Lowe's store, which will have one main entrance at its center, will face south on its lot between Airport Way and Marathon.
Both retailers initially came to the city with plans to lease the municipally owned land, but during the ensuing two years, they negotiated for outright purchases of the property. The Lowe's real estate transaction has closed. Wal-Mart's is pending.
In addition to the selling price of the land, the projects are expected to bring more than $1 million to the city of Kenai in the form of annual sales tax from Wal-Mart, Lowe's and other businesses expected to have higher sales as the result of traffic brought to town by the giant retailers. The Kenai city sales tax rate is 3 percent.
Plans for the two stores can be viewed at Kenai City Hall on Fidalgo Avenue.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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