The highs of Lowe's Home store nearing completion

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  Obscured from view by two fast-food restaurants and the U.S. Post Office building on West Elk Avenue, the new Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse is not merely under construction - the thing is nearly done.
  The general construction company Jemsite Development of Jefferson, N.C., expects to hand possession of the 116,000-square foot superstore over to Lowe's representatives in early November, according to the construction company's facility supervisor.
  "It has been a good one so far," building superintendent John Phipps said of the home improvement superstore's construction.
  A helicopter from the Aircrane, Inc. construction company of Atlanta, Ga., placed the massive HVAC units on the building's roof Monday morning.
   "It takes a crane two days," said Phipps. "They do it in half an hour."
  The construction company expects to hand over ownership of the site to Lowe's company by early November, according to Phipps. The building's completion required painting, a shape structure for the store's home and garden center, and the pouring of roughly 4,000 yards of concrete, he said.
  The Lowe's building lies on approximately 16.7 acres east of the Wal-Mart Supercenter building and north of West Elk Avenue.
  Based in Mooresville, N.C., Lowe's Companies, Inc., is the second largest home improvement retailer in the world following Home Depot. The company entered into a "Brownfield" agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to redevelop the property once part of the North American Rayon Corporation.
   David Moxley, the site's grading supervisor, said the project was the first "Brownfield" site the company had ever developed.
  "For a Brownfield site, it has went pretty well," Moxley said. "We did our homework and tried to do everything required by TDEC."
  A Brownfield is property where the expansion, redevelopment, or re-use may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous pollutant or contaminant. A Brownfield developer typically does not incur punitive action from environmentally hazardous contaminants discovered on a site if the materials were heretofore undiscovered by the former property owner.
  Moxley confirmed a ditch line containing asbestos material was discovered on the site during grading work. The ditch previously contained a utility pipe that had been removed but the asbestos materials - likely used to insulate the pipe - remained, he said. A subcontractor removed the asbestos.
  Moxley said Jemsite typically had "four to five" Lowe's stores under construction at any given time. The company also conducts large-scale paving and general construction work around the Southeast and Midwest.
  Moxley said paving of the store's parking lot - which would accommodate 669 vehicles - should be completed by early November. Lowe's officials have estimated the new store will create 75 to 100 new jobs in the community.
  Publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, Lowe's employs more than 130,000 people. The typical Lowe's home improvement store stocks more than 40,000 items.
  With fiscal year 2003 sales exceeding $30 billion, Lowe's reported generating approximately 10 million customers a week at more than 900 home improvement stores in 45 states, according to company information. For the six months ended July 30, the company reported that revenues jumped 19 percent to $18.85 over the same period last year.