Crew making new friends and new Albertsons

October 25, 2001 12:00 am
Concrete work is under way at the site of the new Albertsons supermarket in Baker City. Conduit that carries the electrical connections awaits its concrete home at the rear of the store. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).
Concrete work is under way at the site of the new Albertsons supermarket in Baker City. Conduit that carries the electrical connections awaits its concrete home at the rear of the store. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).

By MIKE FERGUSON

Of the Baker City Herald

Even though workers have been on the job less than three weeks, McCormack Construction the Pendleton firm selected to build Baker Citys new Albertsons Store in the Baker Town Square already has at least one happy neighbor: the Community Connection senior center.

Theyve already moved a shed for us and set it up on blocks, said Ava Russell, Community Connections office assistant. And theyve told us theyll take out our tree stumps and get rid of some debris for us.

Project superintendent Rick Bonifer said its the least his company can do. After all, Community Connection has allowed McCormack to park its worksite trailer on its property. The trailer sits flush against the senior centers greenhouse.

They needed a spot, and we needed some help, Russell said. So far, its working out great.

The same can be said about the work that has been done so far on the $3.1 million project, construction supervisors say. Over the past three weeks, workers have begun moving dirt and laying the various foundations for the project. Depending on the weather, paving for the complex could be done as early as Friday, said ESI Constructions Russell Autrey, whos supervising the site work for the project.

The anchor for the development, a $2.6 million, 45,076 square foot Albertsons store, is scheduled for a Spring completion, Bonifer said. The company also plans a $217,000 convenience store, canopy and carwash in front of the grocery store.

Dollar figures for construction values were provided by the Baker City Planning Department; an albertsons representative would neither confirm or deny the building costs.

The stores foundation should be done by Halloween and the shell completed by Dec. 15, Bonifer said. When construction kicks into high gear, the project will employ more than 40 workers, most of whom will work for sub-contractors, he said. Nearly all of that work has already been contracted.

Plans call for new amenities

Itll be a real nice building, Bonifer said, pointing out the stores floor plan housed inside his companys trailer. The store front will be dressed up real nice, with a pitched roof and an arched entryway.

Plans also call for amenities that Albertsons customers desire in their new stores, a company spokeswoman said, including wider aisles, a reading area near the magazine display, pharmacy, floral section, video rental area and rapid film developing.

The store will also sport a meal center, said Albertsons Jeannette Duwe. The center is an area near the deli designed to enhance customer convenience.

People enjoy going in and picking up a meal they can heat up easily, she said. The whole store is being designed with customer convenience in mind.

Duwe said that in most cases

when the company is building a new store, Albertsons closes its existing store, then opens the new one at 6 a.m. the next day. Our goal is for the transition to be seamless, she said.

A firm with a track record

McCormack construction has plenty of experience in eastern Oregon, Bonifer said. Last year the company completed the Bi-Mart facility next door, and this year it put the wraps on the $1.6 million Pendleton Arts Center. That job garnered McCormack an award from Gov. John Kitzhaber, in part for donating more than $40,000 worth of in-kind services toward the project.

Related to the Baker Town Square is a new 2,000 square foot, $250,000 facility for Community Bank, which now operates out of temporary quarters in the Baker Tower. Construction work for the bank, which is being handled by Sid Johnson Construction of Baker City, is also progressing well, said the banks facility manager, Ed Minalia, and should also be completed by spring.

When its completed next spring, said Baker City planning director Tim Collins, Baker Town Square will stretch from Bi-Mart to Albertsons, with a yet-undetermined number of potential retail locations in between.

Clothing retailer Emporium was considering establishing a new store in the development its chairman even publicly announced that the chain planned to branch out to Baker City but then pulled out of the project, Collins said.

According to Collins, when its complete, Baker Town Square will have three ways in and out: the existing drive on Birch Street that allows traffic into Bi-Mart; Cherry Street; and A Street between Oak and Campbell streets. It will be up to the Baker City Council, he said, to determine what impact the project will have on Campbell Street.

Councilors and the Oregon Department of Transportation have sought public comment on, among other things, whether to leave the street two lanes (with a third lane for turns) or make it four.

Well just have to see how it all turns out, Collins said.