Architects overcome ‘impasse’ on city’s grocery store project
by Jennifer Cohron
Oct 11, 2013 | 2466 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An architect’s drawing of the proposed grocery store to be built in downtown Cordova was presented at the Cordova City Council meeting held Tuesday. Photo Special to the Eagle
An architect’s drawing of the proposed grocery store to be built in downtown Cordova was presented at the Cordova City Council meeting held Tuesday. Photo Special to the Eagle
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CORDOVA — The head of the architectural firm in charge of the grocery store presented new plans to the Cordova City Council at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“We believe we have gotten through an impasse that we’ve been at,” said Chip Gardner of Gardner Architects LLC.

Gardner said the design process has been complicated by the fact that the project has two clients.

The city of Cordova, which will own the building, received a $1.4 million disaster relief grant for construction of an 8,500 square foot facility. However, it became clear through conversations with the prospective grocer, Piggly Wiggly owner Mark Bozeman, that at least 10,000 feet would be needed for the store.

Gardner said the revised plan accommodates the city’s budget as well as Bozeman’s input.

“We thought having that tenant in hand was an important thing because we could have made the store smaller and have Cordova part ways with him (Bozeman) at some point. That didn’t seem like the right solution,” Gardner said.

Gardner added that the original floor plan for the store was more complex and construction costs were more expensive because city officials had asked architects to include space for a prospective bank tenant.

That idea has now been abandoned.

“The drive-thru was forcing all of this strange configuration of the store. Everybody agreed that that was an unknown and not the thing that needed to be driving us, like the tail wagging the dog,” Gardner said.

The new simpler layout is for a 9,800 square foot store.

To offset expenses, Gardner said the city will be saving money on site preparation because the store has been moved away from an embankment and situated directly on the corner of First and Mill streets.

Parking wil be available on the street and behind the building.

Gardner said he believes the current design not only pleases city officials and Bozeman but also takes into consideration the high profile nature of the project.

The grocery store will be the first building constructed in the downtown area since the April 27, 2011, tornadoes.

“We were charged to have a store with a quality appearance or high design, not just a stripped down rectangle to put a store in because this was going to be a tone setter for the development,” Gardner said.

Gardner, who is based in Birmingham, was hired by the council in February.

Patience within the community has waned as months passed without any visible signs of progress.

“I know everybody wanted to see a store under construction by now, but that’s why it has taken so long. Something had to give, and it’s finally given,” Gardner said.

Long-term recovery manager Steve Ostaseski said the bid process will last up to three weeks, and Gardner said the architects and engineers will need at least two weeks to finish up their work.