Business development taking shape

Roads, infrastructure work mark site of new Tractor Supply Co. store

Kings Construction of Oskaloosa was busy working Monday just south of the old FMC plant making a 'L' shaped road and a building pad for a future Tractor Supply store site.

Piles of dirt and tons of heavy equipment at the intersection of 23rd Street and O’Connell Drive are catching the attention of passing motorists, and developers of the corner are glad of it.

The dirt work is the first step in turning the intersection into a new commercial center. As reported in August, Tractor Supply Co. has agreed to build a new store at the site, and construction crews are now busy building the roads, storm sewers, sidewalks and a sewage lift station to serve the development.

“Once users and other players in the commercial real estate business can see and touch the development, we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll have more businesses to announce,” said Bill Newsome, who heads the Lawrence-based development group that is working on the project.

Tractor Supply Co., a national farm and home retail chain, plans to build about a 20,000-square-foot store on the eastern edge of the site between O’Connell and Franklin roads.

But the site is zoned to accommodate about 200,000 square feet of retail. Newsome has long said the development would like a grocery store to serve as the anchor tenant for the development.

First, though, comes the unglamorous work of installing infrastructure. Chuck Soules, the city’s director of public works, said work on the east-west road, which will be called Exchange Place, should be done by the beginning of the year. Work on the north-south road, which will be Fairfield Street, will begin in the winter and be done in the spring.

Newsome said Tractor Supply Co. has filed for a building permit, and work on the store should begin within a matter of days. A spring opening is likely, he said.