Construction at the Gadsden Food City is still underway. The location at 1001 Rainbow Drive will open sometime after the beginning of 2024. Photo by Kaitlin Hoskins/Messenger.
By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor
The long-awaited Food City under construction at the Gadsden Mall had an original opening date set tentatively for late summer of this year, however, due to a vital part being on back-order, the opening has now been pushed to the beginning of 2024.
According to Steve Smith, president and CEO of K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc. – the parent company of Food City – the setback is frustrating.
“We ordered this part in July a year ago, I believe,” Smith said. “I’m frustrated. I’m pretty upset, or, actually, I am disappointed. We just had a call with the company this morning [Friday, Sept. 22] and we are hoping we have an answer on when the part will be in soon.”
The part in question is a switchgear – a vital part in establishing permanent power to a building. A switchgear is composed of electrical disconnect switches, fuses or circuit breakers used to control, protect and isolate electrical equipment.
The delay has been costly. The original budget for the whole construction process was between $14 and 15 million. The switchgear has cost the company an estimated $100,000, or more, according to Smith.
Smith explained that the switchgear is necessary for the main building’s permanent power supply, but he was not sure if the fuel station, which will sit to the side of the building, in the former Sears’ parking lot, will require the part.
Aside from the delays caused by the switchgear, the rest of the construction process has gone smoothly.
“That’s the positive spin here,” Smith said. “Everything else is going very well. Most of the store is coming together as we hoped it would. We are building a great store team and have already hired good team members. We’re excited.”
When the business is fully staffed and ready for a grand opening, Smith hopes to have between 175-200 employees, with a mix of full-time and part-time schedules.
While the original Food City stores date back to 1918, the 53,700 square foot Gadsden location will be up-to-date and full of amenities, uncluding a sushi bar, hot bar, fresh bar, soup bar, sit-down café, pharmacy and a Starbucks. As mentioned before, the site will also have a fuel station.
The Gadsden store, like other Food City stores, will offer curbside pickup and home delivery through third-party delivery companies like Door Dash and Instacart.
The grocery chain has several locations in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. The Albertville store is the only Food City location in Alabama until the Gadsden store is complete.
“We’re excited to be coming to Gadsden,” Smith said. “The community seems excited as well. Gadsden is a great area and the mayor and city have been great to work with. We couldn’t be more excited to be part of the community. And we’re planning on being part of the community. We want to be involved.”
City leaders and company representatives officially broke ground on the Gadsden location on Dec. 2, 2022.