Home Depot drops interest in moving into former Kmart store

Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Juneau's former Kmart building will not be converted into a Home Depot, spokesman Jerry Shields of The Home Depot Inc. said Monday.

Kmart Corp. of Troy, Mich., announced on Monday it will sell 18 of its stores to Home Depot for $271 million. But none of those stores is in Alaska, Shields said. He could not say why the Old Glacier Highway location was not among the 18 stores.

In May 2003, a Home Depot spokesman confirmed the company was eyeing the former Kmart building in Juneau.

City Manager Rod Swope said he has not spoken to Home Depot officials in months, but he believes the company remains interested in the city, if not in the building. The former Kmart sits on wetlands that could not support the weight requirements of building supplies, Swope said, so he was not surprised by the announcement. He still hopes to fill the building, he said.

An official with Juneau Ready Mix has said the company was negotiating with Home Depot for a site in the Lemon Creek area.

"We're always disappointed when businesses decide not to open up," Juneau Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Wyatt said.

When Home Depot first announced its interest in Juneau, the chamber board of directors did not take a position, Wyatt said, because it could not get enough information, such as hiring levels or pay scale from the company.

Home Depot announced its purchase of three Kmart stores that will close this month: in Hanover, Pa.; New Milford, Conn.; and Champaign, Ill., according to The Associated Press. Stores in Broomall, Pa.; Tempe, Ariz.; Levittown, N.Y.; Huntington Beach, Orange, Seaside and Thousand Oaks, Calif.; and Coconut Grove and Jacksonville Beach, Fla. will close in mid-October for conversion. A vacant store in Houston also is part of the agreement.

Kmart was waiting to notify workers at the five other stores before naming them.

Kmart announced on Jan. 16, 2003, the closure of 326 stores nationwide as part of a bankruptcy reorganization plan. More than 150 employees of the Juneau Super Kmart lost jobs when the store closed April 13, 2003.

Home Depot, based in Atlanta, has 1,683 stores in North America, including locations in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Kenai.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at tara.sidor@juneauempire.com.

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