PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - UPDATE 10/13/14
Pikeville's newest shopping location is now officially open.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Monday morning at the new Hobby lobby.
The store is the first to open in the Pikeville Commons development.
City leaders say it is an exciting day for the entire region.
Following Hobby Lobby, there will be seventeen to nineteen more businesses in the shopping center...including Marshall's, which is set to open later this month.
Bringing big business to the mountains. That's the effort underway in Pikeville. Last fall, city officials announced major names like Marshall's and Ulta would be coming.
Since then there have been some questions about how long it would take before the stores open.
Developers say with initial ground work and the harsh winter behind them, the project is making rapid progress.
Elevating the site above the flood plain, installing utility lines ... All work that isn't noticeable but necessary is complete. Now, the more visible work like pouring foundations and building walls is taking place with phase one well underway.
Rex Rice, with RealtyLink Development says, "We've got the apartments going in above the post office...15 in the air right now. We will have about 69 completed when this phase is done and we will be pushing 170 total."
Also part of phase one is a strip of smaller shops underneath three floors of apartments.
With the post office set to relocate in a couple of weeks, phases two and three will also start popping up. Phase two is Hobby Lobby, phase three is the other major name brand stores.
Rice says, "Across the parking lot where the post office is presently, is where we will be putting the big name box stores. Next to that is, Hobby Lobby, where the foundation has been laid and walls will be up by the end of the week."
As the project starts taking shape, city leaders say it not only creates excitement because of the convenience it will bring but also because of the opportunity with an estimated 400 new jobs.
Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn says, "These are some good jobs. Most stores will have store managers, assistant store managers, receiving managers, so these are some good paying jobs."
Years of planning and months of ground work...all coming together to help move the area forward.
Most of the construction should be completed by late August or September just in time for the Christmas shopping season.
City leaders also say there will be more major brand names added in the coming weeks.
ORIGINAL STORY 9/23/13
Pikeville City Officials have talked about a new shopping complex for several years and on Monday that project took a big step forward.
Several store names were revealed at the groundbreaking ceremony for the project where officials discussed the importance of this project for the region.
Six national brand name stores coming to Eastern Kentucky bringing with them hundreds of jobs, which city officials say are much needed after last week's loss of more than 500 coal mining jobs.
City Manager Donovan Blackburn says, "It is timely and it is unfortunate what is happening to our economy based on what is happening on a national level, but we don't need to lay down and take it. We need to look for ways to diversify our economy."
Bennie Bartley, lives in Pikeville and says, "We are losing some jobs in the higher paying end like coal mining. I don't imagine these will be as well paying but they are jobs."
City officials agree that creating any type of job to fill the void is important, "Many miners are out of work, it is time, anytime you can create jobs it is a good thing. I understand what a coal miner does for this nation and I understand how much they've made and what they are accustom to," explains Blackburn. He adds, "I also understand what salaries a store manager or receiving manager makes. These places are going to need store managers, warehouse managers, receiving managers, and so on. So there are some golden opportunities for good paying positions."
In addition, officials say about 100 construction and development jobs will also come to the area.
The project is bringing more jobs to an area that officials say has become a regional hub for medical care, education, entertainment, and now retail.
"For years growing up in Pikeville and Eastern Kentucky we have seen people leave our area for services...as simple as shopping," says Blackburn.
By staying home to shop officials say folks will help invest in their own community, "Will create a good tax base, the school systems need money we need money for education. So, it is a 40 million dollar project that will create an additional tax base and that will be invested back into the community," explains Blackburn.
Which is something many folks say they will be happy to do.
Bartley says, "It is progress for our area, we are pleased to see it. It really makes you feel good to see things going on."
City officials say this development is part of a bigger plan to help the region, "Things are changing, maybe not as quick as we would like, we know our friends and families out there are suffering...but this is at least one step forward," says Blackburn.
Officials say the city commission remains focused and is currently working on several other projects to help better improve their community.
The stores that were announced at the ceremony were Marshalls, Hobby Lobby, Maurices, Ross, Rack Room Shoes, and Ulta. Officials say there are many other stores and restaurants that will be announced soon.
There will also be 200 apartments in the complex.
Construction will begin within seven to ten days. The project will be completed in phases with the first store opening in four to six months.