By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — Organizers say the ongoing construction work at Times Square Mall is on schedule and crews have experienced no major difficulties so far.
The work is intended to prepare the mall site for three new retail stores — Hobby Lobby, Big Lots and a third tenant that has yet to be named publicly. The third store is being referred to as “Retail B.”
Since mid-November, crews with Poettker Construction have been installing new entrances at the site for these retailers, as well as completing demolition work inside the mall.
Crews are also building two “demising walls” between the retail sites in the interior. Also, in the next few weeks, workers hope to begin the steel work for the entrances.
Having the mall open while this work is going on has presented a challenge for work crews, said Eric Kues, project superintendent for Poettker Construction.
Even so, Poettker is on schedule to finish the Hobby Lobby preparation in February, Kues said. Poettker Construction, based out of Breese, is the general contractor on the project.
“The Hobby Lobby is pretty well on schedule and Retail B and Big Lots isn’t scheduled to be finished until May,” Kues said. “To keep the mall up and running, there’s some challenges there with trying to work around the holidays and all the people, so that was a little bit of a struggle there. It was busy.”
Once Poettker has completed its work for Hobby Lobby in February, store crews will be sent in to do finishing work, Kues said. The finishing work should take two to three months.
“Hobby Lobby comes in afterwards and they do the finishes,” Kues said. “So basically all that we leave them is (what’s called) a warm gray shell.”
The new Hobby Lobby store will be located in the 53,000 square-foot building formerly occupied by Sears. It is projected to open in Mt. Vernon during the second quarter of this year, and will bring about 35 to 50 jobs to the community.
Big Lots will be located in a roughly 32,000 square-foot space. A firm opening date has not been provided for this store.
The retail store that has not yet been named will occupy a 22,000 square-foot space.
In late November, a special groundbreaking ceremony was held at the mall to celebrate the three new stores, as well as other improvements planned at the site.
On hand for the proceedings were city officials, along with representatives of The Sansone Group and Pine Tree Commercial Realty, LLC — the mall’s owners.
Mt. Vernon Mayor Mary Jane Chesley said Thursday Sansone is a quality company that is “ready, willing and able” to invest in Mt. Vernon.
“It is good to have a partnership with this quality company,” Chesley said. “They have faith in the future of the city and the potential of the retail market.”
Chesley also pointed out that the new retail stores will be a great benefit to the city in terms of attracting more people and increasing tax dollars.
“It brings more of a marketability for the community,” Chesley said. “The potential is there for the improvement of the quality of the community.”