Local contractors Johnston Builders are bringing their long-standing partnership with Co-op home by building the co-operative's new grocery store in St. Albert.
Progress is well underway for the 32,00-square-foot building located in Riverside Landing. Co-op and Johnston Builders held a groundbreaking ceremony in mid-May to celebrate.
"We had a bit of a slow start but now we’ve been going for the last little bit,” said James Hackney, the president of Johnston Builders. Hackney said delays in obtaining the proper permits and a rain-heavy spring has slowed construction.
"It’s going to be good for the community,” Hackney said of the new food store, which will also include a pharmacy.
"It’s going to be really gorgeous, [with] high-end finishes."
The grocery store is part of Co-op's multi-store development, as a Co-op gas station and liquor store are already operating in the adjoining parking lot. Johnston Builders did not build the gas station or liquor store, but Hackney said the company did submit an unsuccessful tender for the liquor store.
Todd Drouin, the market development manager for North-Central Co-op, said customers can expect a full-service market, including a bakery, deli, produce section, pharmacy, and more.
"Co-op has been actively involved in seeking out and evaluating opportunities for development of grocery, gas and liquor opportunities in St. Albert and the greater Edmonton market for many years," Drouin said.
Drouin said the Co-op multi-development in St. Albert has been in the works for "multiple years," but the project "moved forward in planning and execution at a good pace once the real estate portion of the project was secured."
Building Co-op food stores is nothing new for Johnston Builders. Hackney said the company has built "several."
"We’ve worked with Co-op for years and years in Alberta and Saskatchewan. When they reached out about getting this job, we were all for it."
Hackney was unsure if the number was current, but the company's website states they've completed 23 previous projects for Co-op throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan.
“That’s why we were just so excited about doing a job for Co-op in our backyard," said Hackney.
“We’ve got a lot of people that live in St. Albert, so they get to drive by the site and feel proud of what they’re accomplishing there.
“Our Co-op makes an active effort to support and collaborate with local businesses wherever possible. Partnering with Johnston Builders aligns with our values and our commitment to strengthen the communities that we serve,” Carla Debert, manager of marketing and community relations for North-Central Co-op, said in a news release May 5.
Hackney said he was unable to share an expected completion date for the grocery store.
Take them as they come
Despite the fact the company's headquarters is located in St. Albert, Hackney said Johnston hasn't secured as many local development contracts as they would like.
“Unfortunately, we just haven’t done as much in St. Albert. Our last job was some [renovations for] the St. Albert Food Bank," Hackney said.
"When we got a new building in St. Albert, it was just really exciting for our group.”
The St. Albert construction site is currently operating with a crew of about 15 to 20 people, but when the vertical building begins, the crew will grow to a staff of about 40, Hackney said.
Johnston Builders has a second office in Whitehorse, Yukon. The northern operations include projects in the Arctic, Hackney said. Elsewhere, the company has built hotels, luxury condos, and institutional buildings.
"We’re very client based; we go where clients take us," said Hackney.