The clock is ticking as national home improvement retail chain Home Depot determines whether it will move into the now-empty Big Kmart building in Kenai. A decision will be made by June 5.
Following a meeting with Home Depot architects and development officials and a tour of the building last Thursday, Kenai Mayor John Williams and building official Bob Springer were told the building would require some structural work to meet the company's needs.
"There's a considerable amount of remodeling they've discussed with the building," Williams said.
The group discussed with Springer a possible time frame company developers anticipate to have the building ready to go on approval and how much the company expected to spend on remodeling.
"They indicated that they would spend roughly $1.5 to $2 million to renovate the building," Springer said. "And part of that may account for adding a garden center."
He said if the group gets approval to do any work, they told him it could take six to eight weeks to get plans to the city, and targeted another four weeks to open for business.
Here are the major concerns Springer said Home Depot officials expressed following the visit:
The store would need to address the fire protection and sprinkler system, possibly replacing it.
"Since Home Depot is a high-stack business, with merchandise stacked high to the ceiling, they have to have a special kind of sprinkler system because the ceiling would have to be raised," Springer said.
He said the group that visited the store determined part of the existing sprinkler system could be used, which could significantly reduce necessary remodeling.
The architect the group contracted was concerned the existing concrete floor would not be able to accommodate the load of heavy merchandise the store would carry.
"The development team didn't feel that it was much of a concern, and said it would only set them back a few weeks," Springer said. "But the real estate people were a bit more concerned with this."
There was a concern with the square footage of the building, which Springer said Home Depot's real estate officials thought was too large.
"Typically, Home Depot has buildings of 105,000 square feet," he said.
The Big Kmart building covers 146,500 square feet.
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