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Archive for Friday, July 26, 2002

Store could open as soon as April or May, company officials say

July 26, 2002

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Construction on the long-delayed Home Depot store at 31st and Iowa streets  along with improvements to the intersection  should begin soon.

"Presently we're scheduling an April or May grand opening for the store, depending on when we actually start construction," Tom Thoreson, Home Depot's real estate manager, said Thursday. "Obviously, we're trying to make that happen in the next few weeks."

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission helped clear the way for construction Wednesday by approving a final development plan for the store, which included moving a driveway along 31st Street about 50 feet so it is directly across the street from a common entrance to a post office station and K-mart.

Dan Watkins, a Lawrence attorney representing Home Depot and developer First National Development, said negotiating that design contributed to the delay.

"Things take time," Watkins said. "Home Depot's had a lot of patience and perseverance to get a store here, where they've wanted to have one."

Commissioners in March approved the intersection improvements, which included double left-turn lanes on each approach.

The estimated cost was then about $3.27 million. Home Depot will pay $1.63 million, the city will pay $1.34 million, and the state will kick in $300,000.

Home Depot will be the contractor on the intersection improvements, with the city helping select subcontractors to do the work. City Engineer Terese Gorman said Thursday the intersection work would take roughly six months.

"Go another route," she said. "It'll be inconvenient."

One major piece of work: Builders will need to move a natural gas pipeline that runs through the property.

But three years after the store announced its intention to come to Lawrence  and the ensuing controversies over its effects on affordable housing and traffic snarl  store officials are happy that construction is so close.

"It obviously took a fair amount of planning to get this right," Thoreson said. "We're past the time of talking about it; it's time to actually do it."

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