Wal-Mart coming to Craig?

Local groups confirm contact with retail giant

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Wal-Mart officials did not return phone calls Thursday confirming plans to build a super center in Craig, but fingerprints of their intentions can be found all across town.

City Building Inspector Dave Costa said nothing from the corporation has crossed his desk, but City Manager Jim Ferree said he's had several requests from a "large retailer" for planning and zoning timelines and ordinances.

Local real estate agents confirm they've been working with Wal-Mart officials in the search for property, and Patty Mosbey of the High Plains Mustang Club said club members were asked whether they would consider selling two acres they own west of the Craig Holiday Inn.

When they first were approached two months ago, Mosbey said, club members did not know who was inquiring. They've since learned that Wal-Mart made the original inquiry, but club members have had no more communications and have heard that other properties are under consideration, she said.

Employees of Northwest Ready Mix say they were contacted by a Denver contractor hired by Wal-Mart and asked for a list of local contractors to install a parking lot and pour curb and gutters.

Dave Zehner with Precision Excavating said he submitted a preliminary cost estimate to do dig water and sewer lines, roads, earthwork and concrete. Zehner called the process "budget pricing" and doesn't expect formal bids to be requested until spring.

Kmart's 5 p.m. closure Thursday led to rumors that the store was closing for good. Assistant Manager Laura Foland said the store closed early because of snow.

"We did it to take care of our associates so they could be home before the roads got too bad," Foland said.

The Wal-Mart Corp. expects to open 40 to 45 of its discount stores and 240 to 250 super centers in 2005.

Ferree said he's not sure what to think of the proposal. Although the store would add to the sales tax collections in the city, it could be damaging to local retailers.

With several Wal-Mart stores in surrounding communities, he said he wasn't sure where the store would pull customers from other than existing businesses.

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