Making way for the construction of a new 180,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter, work crews will begin demolishing the former Baker's store and strip mall at 50th Street and Ames Avenue in seven to 10 days.
And there's more: Next month, Walmart recruiters and city officials plan to host a job fair in north Omaha. Walmart has said it expects to hire about 300 full- and part-time workers to staff the store.
Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle; City Councilman Ben Gray, whose district includes the site; David Brown, president and chief executive of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce; and Walmart executives gathered at the site Wednesday afternoon and hoisted the first shovels of dirt to mark the ceremonial start of the project.
"This new Walmart ... has the potential to spur economic development up and down the 50th and Ames corridor, which will mean more jobs," Suttle said. The store, he added, "has the potential to transform this neighborhood."
About 75 people attended the event, including project engineers, Walmart officials and community members, including the Rev. Gregory Ashley, pastor of St. John Baptist Church.
What comes tumbling down next week won't be wasted, said Kevin Brown with Carlson Construction, the project's general contractor. The block-long concrete, steel and glass strip mall will be reused.
"Everything that comes down is going to be recycled here or someplace else " Brown said.
Omaha engineering group Olsson Associates is the civil engineer for the project.
"We worked with Walmart and the city on the rezoning and developed the site plans," said Chris Willet, the civil engineer project manager. "Basically, we designed everything outside the building."
Walmart plans to rip up the old sloped parking area and replace it with a smooth, level parking lot.
Businesses in a strip mall immediately west of the project, including an H&R Block and medical offices, will remain open and accessible to customers, Willet said.
SGA Design Group of Tulsa, Okla., designed the Supercenter.