Piggly Wiggly coming sooner, Bob Evans delayed

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The new Beloit Piggly Wiggly grocery store is moving on as scheduled, the company said.

Right now the engineering department is finalizing the floor plan and the layout of the store before demolition takes place, said Piggly Wiggly COO Gary Suokko.

“There’s really no timeline right now,” he said. “We’ll be starting demolition soon, and we’re working towards opening sometime in the middle of next year.”

Drew Pennington, director of Planning and Building for the city, said he expects to see the final floor plans in about a month.

The land already is zoned for a grocery store so no public hearing needs to take place, Pennington said.

Piggly Wiggly closed on the purchase of the former K-Mart building near the intersection of Prairie Avenue and Shopiere Road in September after being vacant for 10 years. The inside of the store basically will be gutted to make way for the new store.

The company purchased 50,000 of the 80,000 square feet from Windmill Hill, a Davenport, Iowa based company.

Renovations are expected to exceed $4 million, and the grocer will create more than 100 jobs.

After the Beloit store opens, the company will have 102 locations in the Wisconsin and northern Illinois area. The remaining 30,000 square feet in the building will be renovated to make room for five to eight additional smaller shops.

Another major private project has been delayed until spring. Beloit City Manager Larry Arft said Columbus-based Bob Evans is still planning to locate a restaurant in the city, but has delayed starting the project until after the winter.

Arft said he spoke with Morgan Square LLC officials, who own the vacant lot at 2777 Milwaukee Road, and they indicated the company wanted to wait until after the winter weather to begin construction of the restaurant.

Pennington said the company didn’t give any other reason for delaying the start time. All the permits for construction were approved by the city a couple of months ago.

“That’s not uncommon for a project to rush through the approval process and then wait to start,” he said. “We’re still confident that they will come here, just a little later than planned.”

The lot previously was the site of a fire station, but has remained vacant for several years.

Margaret Standing, director of corporate communications for Bob Evans, declined to comment on the project because it is still getting under way. It would be the first Bob Evans restaurant for the company in Wisconsin, which currently has more than 560 restaurants in 19 states.

In August, Bob Evans applied for a signage exemption through the Plan Commission asking for a larger sign than is normally allowed by city ordinance. City code limits one primary sign up to 20 feet high and 150 square feet in size, and three additional secondary signs up to 30 square feet.

The commission permitted the company to have a 50-foot high primary sign, which went against city staff recommendations for a 35-foot primary sign. The commission followed all the other recommendations of the staff, including limiting the primary sign to 190 square feet in size, allowing one secondary sign to be 54 square feet, and up to three additional secondary signs up to 34 square feet.

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