Trucks began pouring concrete shortly after midnight Thursday for the Shops at McAlester highway retail shopping center project.

"We started around 2 a.m.," said Rusty Broyles of the Embree Construction Group, who is building superintendent for at least four of the stores going up at the site. 

Concrete slabs for several stores, including T.J. Maxx and Burke's Outlet slabs, were already in place, early Thursday, with multiple crews working to assist pouring concrete, helping  smooth it and other tasks.

"It's going in stages," said Broyles. Concrete floor labs for Ross Dress for Less and RR Shoes were also to be poured.

Also on Thursday, more slabs were poured to provide a concrete surface for the pouring and construction of walls that will be utilized in another phase of the project. A construction worker guided the trough attached to a concrete truck, then motioned the driver forward. As the concrete poured to the ground, other workers moved forward to begin the smoothing process, both with machinery and with hand-held smoothers.

"This is a temporary slab," Broyles said. "It's for building wall panels."

The intent is for all the wall work to be constructed on the temporary slabs, so when the walls are poured, dried, cured and ready-to-go, a huge crane will pick them up and put them into place where they will be braced into position so the roof and other components can be added.

Broyles said the weather had hampered the project at several points, but things have been moving forward in recent days.

McAlester city officials who've been working on the project were enthused to see the first floor slabs poured.

"It's incredibly exciting to see the progress being made at the Shops at McAlester site and to reach this milestone on the project," said McAlester Economic Development Director Kirk Ridenour.

"Once you get the foundation in, you're not nearly as weather-dependent," he said. "Hopefully, this marks a point where we will see more progress."

Broyles said the completion date he's been given is February, 2022.

Burk Collins previously told the city in 2020 that some of the stores with longterm leases moved their turnover dates to February 14, 2022, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, Broyles walked over stone-packed surfaces being readied  for the concrete slabs that will provide the base for new stores and shops at the Shops in McAlester highway retail shopping center.

As he walked, the sounds of multiple pieces of heavy equipment filled the air as bulldozers and other earth-movers rol4edl back and forth to level the dirt on another section of the site.

Additional stores Collins said are slated for the site include Hobby Lobby, Marshalls, FFO, Five Below and others. Hobby Lobby, which has already obtained building permits from the city, is expected to construct its own building later this  year.

Broyles said the completion date he's been given is in February, 2022.

Burk Collins and Company is developer for the Shops at McAlester project. Through a Tax Increment Financing, or TIF agreement, with the city of McAlester and with Pittsburg County commissioners, Collins agreed to develop and construct the project. In return, he gets to collect the city's and county's portions of sales tax collections at the center for five years or until he collects $5.5 million, whichever comes first.

With the five-year countdown originally set to begin with the sale of the first item at the first store to open on the property, Collins told city officials in 2020 that some of the stores with longterm leases moved their turnover dates to Feb. 14, 2022, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Collins said at the time that since the tenants had moved their turnover dates back, it would affect his ability to collect the tax money within the originally-projected five-year period, which he said compelled him to seek the 24-month extension to February 14, 2022.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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