Construction or more appropriately deconstruction got under way in Kenai on Friday in the building that was formerly known as Big Kmart.
Demolition crews on backhoes, bulldozers and skid steers began the process of gutting the building as the first step of the architectural and engineering work that will be done to convert the structure into a Home Depot.
"It's a big job," said Justin Green, owner of Alaska Demolitions. "We're doing a large scale interior strip out with heavy equipment."
Alaska Demolitions, an Anchor-age-based company that pursues jobs throughout Alaska, won the bid for the demolition job two months ago after competing with several other companies.
"Today's the first day of work and were off to a wonderful start," Green said Friday. "We've got some really good general contractors working on it, and the local laborers we hired are some hard-working guys and are doing good so far."
Green's crew currently consists of 10 men, but six more will start soon, he said. They expect to be putting in 10-hour days to have the demolition job complete within roughly 30 days.
Green said the job comes with a few obstacles, though.
"It's challenging saving parts of the structure that are to remain, like the support structures holding up the roof and some of the other structures that are staying."
Despite the challenges, Green said he still would rather do the demolition of the job, rather than the construction.
"It's just us in here right now," he said. "But Home Depot wants this store done by Dec. 18. That's only four months to do it all in. When we pull out, this building will be full of contractors working hard to complete it by then."
Green said he's looking forward to the next few weeks of labor.
"The big equipment is the easy part. It's when you get down to the small hand stuff that things get tough," he said.
Working in Kenai has a few perks for the out-of-town construction workers, according to Green.
Kenai is a wonderful place to work in, he said.
"It's a lot better than Anchor-age, especially for traffic. All the vendors have been good to us, and the locals have been very cooperative with us having the parking lot blocked off."
The perks haven't stopped when the 5 o'clock whistle blows, either, Green said. He and his crew took a salmon fishing trip.
"It was a treat to be out on the water for a bunch of construction workers and truck drivers," he said. "My head mechanic Tom Murren even caught a king at 11:30 p.m., just before the season closed."
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