WARRENTON — The new Walmart, now rising at the corner of Ensign Lane and U.S. Highway 101, took more than $10 million in ground work and the better part of a year to get ready.
Warrenton dignitaries on Friday celebrated the store, which is expected to open in the spring and bring about 300 new jobs to the region. Walmart spokeswoman Deborah Herron said the new store will start hiring in the winter.
At the ceremonial groundbreaking, Walmart donated $5,000 to Clatsop Community Action’s North Coast Regional Food Bank and $2,000 to Warrenton High School.
“I want to thank Walmart for their persistence,” said Warrenton Mayor Henry Balensifer in a nod to the trials and tribulations the national retailer has faced in trying to open a North Coast location.
Walmart representatives first announced plans to build on the North Coast in 2009, announcing the North Coast Retail Center as the location in 2012.
Clatsop Residents Against Walmart formed in 2010 to oppose the retailer, successfully appealing elements of the new store to the state Land Use Board of Appeals. The group also sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in U.S. District Court for granting a wetland fill permit to Walmart. The case was dismissed in August 2016, but an appeal was filed in 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Tim Beshone, the project manager for general contractor Deacon Construction, said ground work began in October and cost more than $10 million to turn the shrub-covered dunes into a level site for the supercenter.
“We had 151,000 cubic yards of dirt that had to be removed from the site,” said Eric Evenson, construction manager for Walmart, of the soils taken out for neighboring developments.
Deacon Construction took out 20 feet worth of soil in some spots, leveling the entire site to 42 feet above sea level. The company brought in more than $2 million worth of rock from the Teevin &Fischer Quarry in Seaside for use in the foundation.
Deacon had to move a city sewer lift station and stormwater pond out of the main building site, while constructing its own stormwater facility to handle up to 2.5 inches worth of rain in a day. The site has faced at least one day with 4 inches of rain, but did not experience any spills into the surrounding wetlands, Evenson said.
“This is sand and silt, and it’s got clay in it,” Evenson said. “It’s just absolutely unsuitable to build on. You have to do something to stabilize it.”
The foundation of the store is built on geopiers dug 35 feet into the ground and rammed full of gravel to stabilize the building. Tiered, caged-in gravel beds line the south end of the building site to keep the store from slipping toward the adjacent wetlands. A compaction layer of rock in the foundation can hold 420 pounds per square foot.
“Once the ground has stopped moving and settled, then we can start building the pad,” Evenson said.
Building the outer shell of the building before the rainy season is the first step, Beshone said, after which interior work can start.