Menards to open on schedule despite vandalism spree




Thirteen workers spent the last five days scrubbing the floor of the Menards store with lacquer thinner to clean up more than 400 gallons of paint dumped during last weekend's vandalism spree at the under construction Garden City store.

"The major paint is cleaned up and all we have left is the remnants of it," said Wayne Frazier, superintendent of McConnell Excavating, Oberlin, Ohio. "So far in five days we've gone through somewhere in the area of 150 gallons of lacquer thinner."

Police arrested four teens who are alleged to have committed Sunday's vandalism, in which two forklifts were used to spill 441 gallons of paint throughout the store, damaging about 25,000 square feet of concrete flooring. Also damaged were a forklift, furnishings, lights and two roof support beams.

The teens face charges of burglary, felony criminal damage to property, arson and conspiracy.

David McCarter, chief building inspector for Garden City/Finney County, doubts Menards' opening will be affected by the vandalism.

"The contractor's turning it over to Menards at the end of February, and then it may take two months for shelving and stocking. So by the end of April, first of May, we should be shopping," McCarter said.

Jeff Abbott, a Menards media spokesperson, could not confirm an opening date saying the company does not talk about specific dates until about a week in advance.

In the meantime, the clean up and damage assessment continues.

McCarter visited the work site Friday morning and was impressed with the clean up progress.

"They're doing a phenomenal job cleaning the floor. Of course they've had people running over each other cleaning it up, but it will not affect opening day," he said.

The damage estimate hasn't been nailed down, but it is extensive. McCarter said the last number he heard is around $250,000. He took a look at the support beams and said they are bent.

"They're going to have a structural engineer come in and look at it and determine if they need to be replaced. I think they're going to be in next week," he said.

Two Menards engineers are expected to arrive Monday to look at the damaged supports, Frazier said.

Frazier said the structural engineers will determine if the supports need to be replaced. If so, it will be an extensive fix entailing shoring up four bays, suspending two girders and probably 100 joists, removing and replacing a column, and removing and repouring the concrete flooring.

However, Frazier said the building remains on schedule to turn over to Menards.

"Their opening day is set," he said. "They have product coming in."

Frazier said while he's not privy to Menards' plans, nothing affects the opening day once the company sets the date.

The Menards store covers about 162,000 square feet on 28 acres. An additional 400,000 square feet of retail space for stores, restaurants and other businesses is planned on more than 60 acres of land near the Menards.

Currently, no other companies have announced plans to build. At least, not yet.

"There's some right on the verge but nothing that's been announced yet," McCarter said. "We've got some people looking at it. Nothing I can comment on."

One name that frequently comes up in the rumor mill and coffee shop talk is Olive Garden, especially considering the Italian eatery is opening two restaurants in Salina and Hutchinson this spring.

But it could be awhile before Olive Garden comes to Garden City, according to an official statement from the company.

"Olive Garden continues to grow, so our real estate teams are constantly looking for new sites across the country. We do not have any specific plans for a new location in the Garden City area at this time," the emailed statement said.

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