Kohl’s & PetSmart construction

GREENFIELD — Initial work began this week on the construction of the new Kohl’s and PetSmart stores in Greenfield, sending a collective sigh of relief from residents across the county.

Construction on the Kohl’s site, in particular, brings an end to months of doubt from residents that the retailer would follow through on plans, after company representatives repeatedly delayed decisions on a Greenfield store originally slated to open in 2012.

Work on both new stores should wrap up sometime this fall, and developers are aiming for a late September to early October opening, said Colby Price, project manager.

In coming weeks, residents will begin to see crews laying asphalt and pouring concrete at the work site.

The parking lot and entry roads will be built first, and construction on the buildings should begin in June, Price said.

Designs for the new stores include a 13,000-square-foot PetSmart and a 35,000-square-foot Kohl’s store, both located on a 5.2-acre lot just southeast of the Interstate 70 and State Street interchange. PetSmart will sit next to Gander Mountain, immediately south of Kohl’s.

In 2011, Kohl’s unveiled plans to build a 55,000-square-foot store in the same location. But after a string of construction delays, company representatives officially pulled plans last April, citing concerns Greenfield’s population couldn’t support enough sales to justify building a store that size.

For years, Greenfield residents have called for more retail clothing options.

In 2009, the city’s economic development group surveyed residents to find out what retail options people desired most.

Kohl’s was the highest-rated retail clothing store in the survey.

Kristen Mark of Greenfield said she routinely drives to nearby Lawrence to do the majority of her shopping.

With the arrival of Kohl’s in Greenfield, though, that will soon change, she said.

“This has been long overdue,” she said.

Though significantly smaller in scale than original building plans called for, the 35,000-square-foot store is expected to offer a similar variety of merchandise as its other locations, just in smaller quantities.

Officials from Kohl’s and PetSmart could not be reached for comment. It’s unclear how many jobs the developments might bring, and when hiring might begin.

A February news release from Kohl’s indicates the Greenfield store will be one of seven new “smaller format” stores across the country.

On average, Kohl’s stores employ between 80 and 100 employees, the release states.

Kohl’s operates about 1,200 stores across the country and generates annual sales exceeding $19 billion, according to the Kohl’s investor documents. There are 38 Kohl’s stores in Indiana, the closest to Greenfield being the retailer’s Lawrence location.

Skip Kuker, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, said the arrival of both Kohl’s and PetSmart could be a catalyst for more interest from prospective developers.

Typically, large developments attract other developers in the area, who are eager to capitalize on increased traffic to retail hot spots.

With Gander Mountain, Home Depot, Starbucks and other attractions nearby, the plaza is becoming increasingly attractive to developers, Kuker said.

“It becomes an attraction for shoppers,” Kuker said. “They might come to shop up Kohl’s, then they end up going to an ancillary store that’s next door or on the way.”

Building plans submitted to the city’s planning department show both stores will share 230 parking spaces. The lot will contain small islands with trees and shrubs, and a 1.3-acre site on the north end of the lot will be available for lease to another company.

City planning director Joanie Fitzwater said she, too, thinks the new developments will drive economic interest in town.

“It’s a really positive step forward for the city,” Fitzwater said, adding that the city has made a concerted effort to attract more retail developments in recent years.

A sidewalk will run behind the property along North Martindale Drive, providing pedestrian access to the property, plans show.

By Daniel Morgan – Greenfield Daily Reporter