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Walls rise for Home Depot

That concrete cube tucked away in the woods behind Big 5 in Oak Harbor will one day actually be something. It will be a 130,000-square-foot Home Depot, which is scheduled to open April 28.

Although no hires have been made yet, approximately 125 people will be needed to staff the home improvement store, said Tom Kulz, the future human resources director of the new store.

At the construction site, passersby on Highway 20 watch as a building grows after weeks of intensive ground preparation work. All of the external walls are in place and the roof structure is being assembled, said Steve Crocker, the project manager for Bird Construction, which is the general contractor on the site. So far, the only challenge builders have had to overcome is poor weather.

“Just the wet, if we’re pouring concrete, it’s a bit of a challenge,” Crocker said.

The new store will be almost identical to the one in Burlington, he said. Once finished, the two main access roads will be located along Highway 20, giving people an easy way into the store and the two other lots that are scheduled for development.

Crocker was not sure of any other businesses that have been confirmed for the area, but he said he heard a rumor that the additional buildings have been leased.

“This is some pretty hot property here and I’m sure they have something leased,” he said.

Bird Construction’s contract for the building was $7.5 million, although Home Depot hires a lot of its own subcontractors, so the final cost will be significantly more than that, Crocker said.

Approximately 25 people have been putting in long hours to make sure the store will open on time, he said. The majority of those are from out of town, Crocker said, but Krieg Construction will lay the asphalt for the parking area.

For now, construction will continue until Whidbey Island residents have a place to find that obscure door handle or rent a rotary hammer.

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