Grading work begins on NARC building

By Thomas Wilson

   The first steps of property redevelopment that will become a Wal-Mart Supercenter have begun.
   Crews with Baker Construction based in Bluff City have begun preliminary work on the eventual demolition of the North American Rayon Corp.
   Elizabethton Chief Building Officer Larry Miller said Tuesday Baker Construction had been in contact with the city. Miller said Baker would likely not pick up a demolition permit until next month after they had removed asbestos materials from the NARC building.
   The company that will construct the supercenter building -- Hudson Construction Co. of Chattanooga -- has picked up construction and electrical permits from the city, Miller said. Hudson completed the 183,000-square foot Wal-Mart Supercenter on Volunteer Parkway in Bristol Tennessee late last year.
   The new super center, which is scheduled to open in August 2004, will be built on a 22.69-acre tract where the North American Corporation building stands. Wal-Mart paid $2.8 million in May for the property. Site plans include a 205,000 square-foot building.
   Hudson is presently completing two supercenters and one neighborhood market Wal-Mart in Nashville, and three other supercenter buildings at sites in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, according to the company's Web site.
   The new Wal-Mart is expected to have a companion retailing giant next door. Lowe's Home Improvement Center will be built on a 16-acre tract located at the end of Wallace Avenue and adjacent to the new Wal-Mart Supercenter.
   Chain-link fencing that once surrounded the property and several truck trailers emblazoned with the Doe River Express logo were removed from the tract last month. The power plant building located at the rear of the property was not included in the purchase and will remain standing.
   Construction of the NARC building began in September 1927 and was completed just over one year later. North American's existing operation was expected to move to the company's facility at the Tri-County Industrial Park in Bluff City.