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Hammer and Wikan grocery store hoping to expand


Hammer and Wikan is attempting to purchase land from the Petersburg Borough in order to expand the square footage of their grocery store. The expansion process would double the size of the back room of the store, and move the receiving dock from the front parking lot of the store to the rear of the building.

“It would make it a lot easier to get around, it would give us more room,” says Larry Martin, CEO of Hammer and Wikan. “We would be able to put a lot of Costco products in there.”

Martin says the Hammer and Wikan board of directors began thinking about expanding the store two years ago. The board came to the conclusion that the easiest way to accomplish the task was to acquire the land behind the store, and expand toward Haugen Drive.

The current set up of the store creates tight quarters for Hammer and Wikan employees and managers. The limited space negatively impacts the company’s desire to carry and stock a diverse assortment of items for customers, according to Martin. The addition would complement and improve upon the remodeling efforts the company completed to the store two years ago, when they replaced all the refrigeration units.

Martin says the expansion would greatly improve the store’s work environment and take three to five years, after the land was acquired from the borough. Martin sees no benefit from the borough assembly choosing to put the land up for auction, which is a possibility. Hammer and Wikan would rather the assembly set an outright price so they could purchase the land, he says.

Liz Cabrera, Borough Planning Director says the decision to auction the land or sell it outright, rests with the borough assembly. The potential sale would need to pass through the borough assembly, which would provide preliminary approval for outright sale or auction.

“Hammer and Wikan applied to purchase the property, and as the property owner, the borough went through the process of making sure it was zoned appropriately,” she says.

Cabrera says the borough wanted to protect certain aspects of the property, including a main water line that runs along the property line. The borough also wanted to keep pedestrian access to the William Musson Memorial Pathway, running from the Post Office to the Hammer and Wikan parking lot protected. Keeping the newly improved trail is a priority for Martin, and no changes will be made to it, he says.

Cabrera also expressed the importance of potentially moving the receiving dock to the rear of the building, and improving the safety of customers and traffic utilizing the front of the building. Expanding the capacity of the grocery store would not only increase safety, but also create jobs and new shopping options.

“Any time you have one of your larger businesses expanding in your community it is generally a positive thing,” Cabrera says. “It adds jobs, it adds an increase in revenue to the municipality, and hopefully it will increase availability of products for purchase.”

John Mason, general manager of Hammer and Wikan says the expansion would increase customer options, improve their fresh departments and add full-time employment opportunities for Petersburg. The potential job opportunities also include two or three seasons of construction, he says.

“This is how we service our customers better, and this is kind of our cat’s pajamas, so to speak,” Mason says. “We really want to give the people of Petersburg, and even the surrounding area, the best spot possible shopping. It’s a win, win.”

The borough assembly will continue discussing the matter and rezoning of the property at their next meeting Nov. 23.


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