City issues building permit to Hobby Lobby

DERRICK JAMES | Staff photoPipes are installed at the site of the proposed Shops at McAlester — where a planned Hobby Lobby is to be constructed as per a building permit issued to the organization by the city.

A building permit has been issued by the city of McAlester for the planned Hobby Lobby at the site of the proposed new highway retail center.

It’s the first set of complete building plans the city has received in connection with the highway retail project known as Shops at McAlester.

Plans call for the Hobby Lobby building to be constructed at the site of the planned retail center on land adjacent to the intersection of Fourteenth Street and U.S. Highway 69, also known as the George Nigh Expressway in McAlester.

Work is also ongoing to install water lines, sewer lines and manholes at the site.

The Hobby Lobby building plans were sent first to city Community Development Director Jayme Clifton to begin the review process, said City Manager Pete Stasiak.

Clifton said Friday the city has issued the building permit after completing the review process.

“The permit has been issued to Hobby Lobby, subject to receiving the permit fees,” Clifton said.

City personnel have approved construction by Hobby Lobby of a 55,064 square-foot building, with an estimated construction cost of $2,915,000. Total permit fees are $19,672.40.

How did the city determine the amount?

“It’s based on square-footage and the number of inspections needed for electrical, mechanical and plumbing,” said Clifton said.

Clifton said city of McAlester Chief Financial Officer Sherri Swift told her Friday that she contacted Hobby Lobby in the past few days, and that she expected to receive the permit fees any day now. Once the fees are received, the city plans to send the building permit on to Hobby Lobby.

Clifton said there is not a set construction date, but once Hobby Lobby receives the already-approved building permit, construction can begin any time.

While developer Burk Collins of Burk Collins and Company is handling most of the construction at the planned retail center, city officials said Hobby Lobby has its own construction department. Clifton said the city has also been in touch with Hobby Lobbys’ architectural team.

“I’m really excited about it,” Clifton said. “I really feel like this is going to be great for our community.”

City Manager Stasiak shared the enthusiasm.

“This is exciting,” Stasiak said Friday. “This is one step closer to going vertical with this project. We’re anxious to see this thing coming up out of the ground.”

“I want to give kudos to the city staff,” Stasiak added. He credited Clifton, her department, the public works and engineering departments and everyone else involved.

An agreement with Collins calls for the developer to pay construction costs upfront along with related costs such as the proposed construction of a new traffic signal where Fourteenth Street intersects with the highway. Some businesses typically build their own stores at such a site.

The agreement made with the city and county through the city’s Tax Increment Financing, or TIF Committee, allows Collins to collect 90% of the city’s and county’s share of the sales taxes collected at the site for five years or until he collects $5.5 million, whichever occurs first. Collins’ current agreement with the city calls for the five-year countdown to start the day of the first sale by the first business to open at the planned highway retail center.

Collins recently told the TIF Committee some of the larger stores planned for the highway shopping center pushed their projected opening day to Feb. 14, 2022. He said they cited disruptions in the supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Collins previously said some of the smaller stores, and perhaps restaurants, may want to open prior to the February 2022 date. That left him concerned that the five-year countdown for him to collect the city and county sales taxes would begin with only one or two stores open.

As a result, Collins requested an additional 24 months for the project.

Several members of the TIF Committee sounded receptive to the proposal. The TIF Committee is currently awaiting more information before scheduling a meeting to take a formal vote on Collins’ request.

Contact James Beaty at

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