DANVILLE — City officials expect construction activity by the end of the month on the long-awaited Kohl's project.
Mayor Scott Eisenhauer told aldermen at Monday night's city council meeting that crews should be moving dirt at the Kohl's site in the next couple of weeks. Developers closed on the property at 3707 N. Vermilion St. last September, but other planned developments, including a T.J. Maxx store and a Meijer store, changed the overall site plan and pushed back construction on Kohl's, according to Eisenhauer.
The council approved two more agreements Monday night for the Meijer store, which will be immediately south of the Kohl's project, and Eisenhauer said those are two more steps in the process that bring the entire development closer to construction.
The council approved a road-improvement agreement with Meijer. According to the deal, the city will pay for improvements on the west side of North Vermilion Street and Meijer will pay for improvements on the east side of Vermilion, but the two parties will seek one contractor to handle all the improvements as one project.
The city's improvements will include moving the North Vermilion Street entrance to Lowe's to the south to align it with the existing entrance to Tractor Supply, which will also be used to access the Meijer store. The alignment of the two entrances will minimize traffic conflicts in the center turn lane on North Vermilion.
Earlier this year, the city spent $150,000 to buy property immediately south of the Lowe's entrance to make way for the changes. The business Classy Critters has been renting that property and will now rent it from the city until it relocates. The council approved Monday a lease through Sept. 1 between the city and Classy Critters.
City Engineer David Schnelle said Meijer's portion of improvements on North Vermilion Street will include lengthening the existing right-turn lane in the northbound lanes at the stoplight intersection of North Vermilion and Boiling Springs Road. That entrance, which served the former K's Merchandise store, will provide access to Kohl's, T.J. Maxx and Meijer. Schnelle said Meijer's improvements will also include creating a right-turn lane into the existing Tractor Supply entrance.
According to the agreement, the city will handle the process of seeking bids from contractors for the work, and will also apply for state economic development funds to cover its costs and possibly some of Meijer's. The agreement states that the city will be the primary recipient of any grant funds, but if funds are awarded and exceed the city's costs, then some can be applied to Meijer's costs.
The city expects to receive bids and select a contractor for the North Vermilion Street improvements by the end of August and award the contract Sept. 14, with construction slated to begin that same month and finish by Oct. 31. Schnelle said that time line will depend on the contractor that's selected.
The council also approved an ordinance through which the city will grant Meijer an easement to construct a detention pond behind, or immediately east, of its store and then turn over ownership of that pond to the city to maintain.
Aldermen Rickey Williams Jr., Ward 1, questioned why the city would do this, and Eisenhauer said if the detention pond belongs to the city, it will be easier to arrange for it to also be used by any future developments that may occur.
Eisenhauer said the site plan has changed in many ways from the original plan in 2011 that included only a Kohl's store and a junior anchor that was not yet determined. The junior anchor — T.J. Maxx — will build a store that's double the size the developers had originally expected. The addition of the Meijer site, which is immediately south of the Kohl's site, also required changes to the Kohl's site plan, although the two sites are being developed separately.
Originally, Eisenhauer said, both developments were to have their own detention ponds, but city officials encouraged the multiple developers involved to build one larger pond that would not use as much land and that could instead be used for future development. The single larger pond can also accommodate any future development, he said. Those are also changes that have pushed back the start date for the Kohl's store, Eisenhauer said.
Despite the delays, he said all three stores are still expected to be finished next year.
Fireworks won't be canceled
Public Safety Director Larry Thomason announced at Monday night's city council meeting that none of the public fireworks displays being planned by private organizations in the community are being canceled because of dry conditions.
But, he said, Danville fire engines will stand by at each event as a precaution.
And he said Danville police will be on the lookout for the use of any illegal fireworks today through Thursday and will issue citations and confiscate the illegal materials.
He said the dry conditions pose a dangerous situation in combination with fireworks. He said even a carelessly discarded match poses a danger.