published Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Costco, Cobb want to hurry up project

by Andy Johns

Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb will meet with Catoosa County's contractor today to see what can be done to speed up groundwork so Costco Wholesale can open in mid-August instead of September.

"We're going to see if that's even possible," Mr. Cobb said Wednesday. "We'll know more after the meeting."

The mayor said the warehouse club wants to open within the current fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31. Originally, the Washington-based company and Catoosa hoped to have a deal signed in early January with the groundwork finished by May 1.

But when permit delays pushed the agreement back to mid-February, the groundwork completion date was pushed back to May 24 and the opening date was also postponed.

Once the groundwork is done to the site at Interstate 75 and Cloud Springs Road, Costco will build the building in 110 days, according to county officials.

Attempts to reach Costco officials were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Company officials have not commented publicly about the new store, even after Catoosa's Feb. 19 press conference announcing the project.

Tom Whitsitt, vice president of Charleston, Tenn.-based Wright Brothers Construction, said he has about 30 workers on the site and their shifts would be extended next week. Crews have moved about 150,000 cubic yards of the 900,000 to 1 million cubic yards of dirt needed to make room for the warehouse club.

Working seven days a week, from sunup to sundown, the earlier date could be possible, Mr. Whitsitt said. Or not.

"We may need that much effort just to stay on track if it keeps raining," he said.

Mr. Cobb also said the wholesaler plans to begin accepting job applications 90 days before it opens. If construction is accelerated, the application period would start in May.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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