Future stores report building progress

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Fresh & Easy and Walmart are at different stages of construction in Lincoln and store officials are not saying when they will open here. Construction of a Fresh & Easy grocery store is now taking place near the intersection of Joiner and Sterling parkways, in between Lowe’s and Red Robin Restaurant. The store should open in 2012, according to Fresh & Easy spokesman Brendan Wonnacott. The News Messenger asked Wonnacott when the store would open. “It’s too early to say when,” Wonnacott said. “There is still a bit of work to do to get the store ready to go.” Wonnacott said Lincoln is a “good fit” for the grocery store chain, which “will open five more stores” in the Sacramento area next year. “That particular location is a great spot, obviously lots of traffic on that corridor and lots of visibility for our store,” Wonnacott said. “More folks are looking for fresh food and to not break the bank.” Fresh & Easy’s brand products feature no artificial colors and flavors, no trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup and a limited amount of preservatives, according to Wonnacutt, and the store’s produce “doesn’t travel too far” to get to the store. “Depending on the season, 65 percent of the produce comes from California,” Wonnacutt said. “Being in California, it makes sense to source locally as much as possible.” Wonnacutt said the Lincoln location was originally announced in 2008. “We focused on Southern California initially and now we’ve got 13 stores open, mostly in the Bay Area,” Wonnacutt said. “The time is right to build into the Sacramento market.” Fresh & Easy will hire 30 full-time and part-time employees for the Lincoln store, according to Wonnacutt. Walmart spokeswoman Delia Garcia said the company filed for a tenant-improvement permit with the city of Lincoln two weeks ago. Walmart purchased the building, formerly home to Rainbow Market (255 G St.), last Dec. 31, according to previous News Messenger reports. “Lincoln is an area where we want to be able to serve the community,” Garcia said. “We have the opportunity to reuse the building that has been vacant for several years.” The News Messenger, after receiving an anonymous tip, asked Garcia if Walmart planned to tear down the building,. “We are reusing the building,” Garcia said. “We are keeping the existing building but looking forward to making it a vibrant part of the community.” Amanda Norton, the city of Lincoln’s housing and special projects coordinator, said Walmart would need to apply for a demolition permit to tear the building down, which has not happened as of press time. Garcia said Walmart will do “external and internal configurations that need to be done to fit Walmart’s specifications.” “External so we can put the Walmart sign on the building and internally so we are able to configure with the right check-outs and how the operations are in the store,” Garcia said. “We will make it so it fits Walmart’s operations so that we can serve our customers.” The News Messenger asked Garcia both when construction will start and when the store will open. “It’s very early in the process, I don’t have a projected timeline,” Garcia said. Garcia was asked if Lincoln’s Walmart would primarily be a grocery store. “All of our stores are designed to serve the community and address needs for general merchandise and grocery,” Garcia said. “We are taking a look at that and making an assessment on how to better serve Lincoln residents.” The opening of both stores is good for Lincoln, according to Norton, since it could draw more new businesses in. “Any additional stores that are looking to open up here is a great sign for us,” Norton said. “In some cases, it will attract businesses.” Norton said this is because “different industries for building and commercial” look at new businesses opening in a town “as a plus.” “We’ll have other businesses or apartment complexes that have called and one question they always ask is what new businesses have opened in town,” Norton said. “They see it as if other big chains are looking to come here, they have done their homework.”