‘Home’ coming?

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 11, 2001

Another large national retailer is eying Albert Lea’s east side as a possible location for a 116,000 square-foot store.

Friday, May 11, 2001

Another large national retailer is eying Albert Lea’s east side as a possible location for a 116,000 square-foot store.

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Representatives of Home Depot, Inc. appeared before the Albert Lea Planning Commission Thursday to present a preliminary plat and site plan for a possible Home Depot hardware and building supplies store in Albert Lea.

&uot;I’ve shopped at many Home Depots before and they’re an asset to the community,&uot; said planning commission chair Dick Polley.

According to Bob Graham, Albert Lea’s city planner, the store would be located near Interstate 35, just south of Cty. Rd. 46. The store would sit about a half-mile south of the planned Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Mayor Bob Haukoos said he expects a new Home Depot store to draw shoppers from a wide area. Currently, the nearest Home Depot to Albert Lea is in Rochester.

&uot;It’s going to bring a lot of people here and help us establish a regional retail attraction,&uot; Haukoos said. &uot;I think this is some of the best news for Albert Lea in a long time.&uot;

Twin Cities developer John Chadwick owns the land proposed for the Home Depot location. He told the commission the store fits in nicely with Albert Lea’s overall development scheme for the I-35 corridor.

&uot;It’s a great piece of land with great visibility. It should draw plenty of drivers off the interstate along with the other developments in the area,&uot; Chadwick said.

The proposed Home Depot, facing north on a 12.8-acre site, would include another 23,000 square feet of outdoor and seasonal sales area in addition to the building itself, Graham said. The lot would include between 400 and 500 parking spaces.

The commission gave the plan unanimous approval, sending it to the city council for final approval May 29. Graham said he expects a development agreement outlining the project assessments by July 1.

&uot;This project has gone well. The Home Depot people have been very professional and cooperative,&uot; Graham said.

The store would employ between 120 and 180 employees, depending on the season, said Home Depot real estate manager Jim McPhail. About 70 percent of those jobs would be full-time, he said. Wages average about $10 per hour.

&uot;We’re very interested in Albert Lea, and everything has been going well with the city so far,&uot; McPhail said.

If everything proceeds as planned, McPhail said, construction workers would break ground in August. Since the building’s walls are constructed mainly of concrete tip-up panels similar to the new high school, the project would advance quickly, lasting only seven months, he said.

Jennifer Maxwell, an engineer for Home Depot, said the store will include a complete line of home-improvement, hardware, lawn and garden and construction products and accessories. A typical Home Depot also features an indoor lumber yard and a garden center with an adjacent outdoor market.

Along with between 40,000 and 50,000 different products, Home Depots offer a variety of services including free design and decorating consultations, truck and tool rental, home delivery and free potting.

Founded in 1978, in Atlanta, The Home Depot is the world’s largest home-improvement retailer with thousands of stores in 46 states, seven Canadian provinces and several foreign countries such as Chile and Argentina.

The Home Depot, Inc. reported net sales for fiscal 1999 of $38.4 billion and employs approximately 230,000 people.