FLORENCE — Construction of a new Wal-Mart SuperCenter won't begin until at least late February, but a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market is quickly taking shape across town.
The super center, which sparked vocal public complaints from nearby residents, will be built on the west side of Cloverdale Road, just north of Cox Creek Parkway.
"The project is out for bids, but we haven't started any site work," said William Wertz, Wal-Mart's director of community and media relations for the eastern United States, in an email. "We hope to start construction around the end of February, and it will take approximately one year to complete."
A Wal-Mart-affilaited developer applied to the city for zoning and related changes for the store in December 2011. A vocal and well organized citizens' group objected to the site chosen, saying it would lower property values and create unsafe traffic congestion. Many of the residents' concerns were resolved in alterations to the plan, including extra traffic signals and carefully controlled access to the property. It won final approval from the city in late spring last year.
Wal-Mart already has a super center about four miles south of the site of the new store. Company officials said there is enough demand for a second store in Florence.
Van Morgan, past president of Downtown Florence Unlimited, the merchants association, said the new Wal-Mart should add to the city's sales tax revenue collections.
"While controversial, the new Wal-Mart will attract a lot more business from Tennessee, and generally more sales tax revenue," he said. "They will buy gasoline and eat in our restaurants while they are here. All of that helps."
Meanwhile, the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market near Florence Boulevard and Darby Drive has been under construction for about two months.
"We expect to have our grand opening this summer," Wertz said. "Neighborhood Markets are about one-third the size of a typical super center, and employ around 95 people."
Wal-Mart operates 230 Neighborhood Markets nationally, six of them in Alabama, he said.
The Wal-Mart grocery store will be newest chain grocer to open in Florence. Publix opened in late 2012.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.