If in search of ground-breaking news, just look next door to the Napa Auto Parts store in Kenai. Tri City's Construction has broken ground on a new strip mall. The building was commissioned by developer Allan Norville, the owner of Kenai Plaza where Carrs and Big Kmart dominate a cluster of retail stores on the Kenai Spur Highway.
The brunt of the work started at the beginning of May. Kenai Public Works Manager Jack La Shot said the building was in the planning stages for several years, but only just went into active construction.
"We just now in the last few months got information on what it was going to be," La Shot said.
The building's dimensions will be 15,600 square feet with a minimum of 1,200 square feet available to rent. Norville said the land for the new construction was purchased independent of the shopping center.
He said the building would be open for occupancy by August, and he is aimed toward attracting small businesses.
"We've had a request for stores that will accommodate small spaces," Norville said. "There's a lot of traffic at the center. The smaller tenants tend to do a lot better when they're located near a large business."
Last year Carrs was considering acquiring the location for one of two possible retail gas stations the company had proposed for the Kenai Peninsula, but Safeway Fuel Manager Richard Watts said projects in Anchorage have placed the peninsula gas stations on the back burner.
"We have so many remodels going on in our Anchorage stores, it's not a priority right now," he said.
Norville, said a Carrs gas station would not have been the first option for the property regardless of setbacks.
"They (Carrs) did approach me about building a gas station," he said. "But we felt it was in our best interest to build this."
Norville said he anticipated having the facility filled by opening and has already signed the first lessee.
"We are negotiating several leases at this time," he said. "We have executed leases with Signatures Hair Salon."
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