Mayor Drew Gilbert said contractor Gary C. Wyatt expects to be done by October. The company is under contract to have the project completed within 200 days.
“If we can get the store open before Thanksgiving, we would be pretty excited,” Gilbert said.
The grocery store is the first major recovery project in the city since the demolition of downtown was completed last May.
The design by Gardner Architects is intended to be both functional and trendsetting as city leaders begin the task of rebuilding the downtown area.
“The building is gorgeous. We have gotten a lot of compliments from people around the county who have been in town and seen the plans. We wanted it to be something special, not just a box store,” Gilbert said.
The city was awarded nearly $1.4 million through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs in December 2012 to build the store.
Gilbert said the project is expected to come in on target or slightly under budget.
Previous plans to include a pharmacy or some other retail space inside the store have now been abandoned because of budget concerns.
The current budget was also sufficient to cover approximately $18,000 in change orders required to address a natural stream that was discovered running under the ground during site preparation.
Mark Bozeman, who operated the Piggly Wiggly that was destroyed in the April 2011 tornadoes, will be the store’s proprietor.
Bozeman will rent the building from the Cordova Economic and Industrial Development Authority. Gilbert said the majority of those funds will be used by the board for building maintenance.
The city will benefit mainly from the sales tax revenue generated by the store. Piggly Wiggly represented approximately half of Cordova’s tax base before the tornadoes.
In addition to the service the grocery store will provide to Cordova residents, Gilbert also sees an opportunity to attract visitors from across the county who enjoy shopping with Bozeman.
“In this county, there are a lot of chain grocery stores that offer you chain meats and produce. I have realized that because of offering fresh meat and produce, a lot of people outside our community choose to shop with our grocer,” Gilbert said. “That is the kind of impact you can’t put on paper. They come for our grocery store and as we continue to revitalize downtown, hopefully we can give them other reasons to stay and shop.”
In addition to the opening of the grocery store, the city will also undertake construction of a new city hall and police station, as well as the realignment of Main Street in the next year.
In December, Cordova was awarded $3.7 million for those projects through ADECA on the condition that they be completed by the end of 2015.
Gilbert said that project is currently ahead of schedule. Bids are expected to go out in April, and construction of the two municipal buildings could be finished as early as next May.
Many of the same contractors who submitted bids for the grocery store have shown interest in the next project.
“There are a lot of firms looking at us right now. It is really exciting because they are seeing potential in Cordova, and they want to be part of it,” Gilbert said.