Wal-Mart Supercenter coming to Craig

Store officials say a 100,000-square-foot store will be built on U.S. Highway 40

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A Wal-Mart Supercenter is coming to Craig.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Moore said Thursday that plans are to build a 100,000-square-foot discount store that will employ more than 200 people. A construction start date has not been set; however, she said it takes about 10 months to build such a store after construction begins.

The Supercenter will be on the south side of U.S. Highway 40 on 23 acres west of the Rocky Mountain TLC Carpetone. Moore said Wal-Mart has the property under contract, but the deal has not closed.

The property's owner, Randy Kloos, was not available for comment.

Wal-Mart officials have asked to meet with the city manager, building inspector and engineer Wednesday to discuss planning and development issues.

"(Wal-Mart) called this week to set an appointment to go over requirements for the city of Craig to develop the land to meet the city's conditions," Building Inspector Dave Costa said.

He said company officials have asked about the city's subdivision regulations, indicating plans to make room for auxiliary businesses. Moore said she isn't sure at this point what the specific plans are.

"We have a lot of permitting and design work to do," she said, "but we're excited about working with the city and getting this store under construction."

Costa estimates it will take three or four months to work through the city's subdivision regulations and six to eight weeks to get approval on a parking and landscaping plan, meaning construction could begin next spring if the company's proposals meet city standards.

City Manager Jim Ferree said an attorney representing the Wal-Mart corporation called to ask whether there are concerns about the decision to open a Supercenter in Craig. Wal-Mart stores often are the target of protestors, who blame the chain for creating traffic problems and undercutting locally owned, small businesses.

"I said some small businesses might be concerned, but as long as they meet the codes, the city's OK," Ferree said.

The city likely will ask Wal-Mart to conduct a traffic impact study before designing its parking lot.

"We sure need to make sure this is done right to minimize the impact to traffic on Highway 40," he said. "We want to make sure if this site is done, it's done right."

The average Wal-Mart Super--center is 186,077 square feet, putting Craig's proposed at the lower end for size. It will be the same approximate size as the average Wal-Mart discount store.

In addition to general merchandise, Wal-Mart Super--centers include full groceries inside the store. Supercenters also sometimes include "stores within the store," such as bank branches, pharmacies, hair stylists, optometry, video rentals and fast food. The nearest Supercenter is 90 miles away in Rifle.

Moore said Supercenters em----ploy between 200 and 500 people. He expects the Craig store to fall at the lower end of that range. The average wage for a Colorado Wal-Mart associate is $10.71 per hour.

The effect a Wal-Mart Super--center has on existing businesses, Moore thinks, has been overstated. "I think you're selling them short by making the assumption they'll close," she said.

The Steamboat Springs Wal-Mart store manager was surprised to hear about the plans to build another store in Craig and said Thursday that it was the first time he'd heard about it and couldn't comment on the potential effect.

Moore didn't expect Craig's store to have much effect on sales at the Steamboat store.

"Anytime we propose a new store," she said, "we look carefully at other stores that it may impact, and we don't build if there's a significant one."

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