Local Wal-Mart employees shouted the company cheer this morning while corporate officials shoveled dirt during groundbreaking ceremonies at the site of Wal-Mart's new Lawrence store at 3300 Iowa.
The local employees, called associates in company parlance, obliged a company official's request to "Give me a W . . . ," raising fists in the air as they spelled out the name of the Bentonville, Ark.-based company.
City officials and Lawrence Chamber of Commerce representatives joined several dozen employees of the existing Wal-Mart store, 2727 Iowa.
Although construction of the new store, which Wal-Mart officials expect to be completed in spring 1993, will expand the company's local retail space from 83,396 to 121,267 square feet, today's ceremony also marked the inauguration of a new wave of Wal-Mart store.
NOT ONLY will the store be complemented by a 2,052-square-foot "material recovery center" to accept recyclable materials from the community, as previously announced, but the store itself will be designed around environmental concepts.
"This is going to be a prototype store," said Jane Arend, Wal-Mart's director of public relations. "There are all kinds of environmental concerns that are going to be introduced into the store."
Arend said they include skylighting to reduce electricity use, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and landscaping design that minimizes water consumption.
The material recovery center, which will be located on the southeast corner of the 9.8-acre site, will accept such recyclables as glass, tin, aluminum, polystyrene, shrink and stretch wrap, plastics, magazines, newspaper, bulk mailings, office paper and cardboard.
RON LUCAS, Wal-Mart's director of recycling, said most materials collected at the center will be shipped to appropriate recycling centers. However, he added that some recyclables, such as cardboard and shrink and stretch wrap, will be transported to companies that will transform those materials into products that will be used or sold in Wal-Mart stores.
Lucas said one component of the recycling effort Wal-Mart had planned for the new Lawrence store, a composting area that would accept leaves and grass clippings, is now on hold.
The Lawrence City Commission announced last week that it will study the implementation of a citywide collection service for yard waste. Lucas said Wal-Mart would abandon its composting plans rather than duplicate a city service.
AREND SAID the company expects to begin construction of the store within the next couple of weeks. She said one of the first orders of business would be demolition of the former Royal Bowling Lanes building, which sits inside the new store's footprint.
As of this morning, however, Wal-Mart had not applied to the city for the required demolition and construction permits.
Diane Mullens, a member of the city planning staff who is working with Wal-Mart, said the company still had to meet several conditions set when the city commission approved the revised site plan for the store. Most of those conditions are administrative in nature.
Gene Shaughnessy, the city's chief building inspector, said the 30-day waiting period the city has established for demolition permits wouldn't necessarily slow the company's plans and that Wal-Mart could apply for a waiver.