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Local

Hardee’s ground work could be weeks away

Fast food chain three months behind schedule

A Hardee’s sign posted in the empty lot on West 19th Street South says the fast food restaurant is to open late spring. Now three months behind schedule, Hardee’s could be ready to lay down its dirt work.
A Hardee’s sign posted in the empty lot on West 19th Street South says the fast food restaurant is to open late spring. Now three months behind schedule, Hardee’s could be ready to lay down its dirt work.

Fast food doesn’t necessarily mean a fast construction.

The Newton-based Hardee’s was expected to be finished and open by late spring, according to Frank Westermajer, president of Westar Foods, Inc., a franchisee of the fast food company.

“Originally, we were going to start in May and be open by right now,” Westermajer told the Newton Daily News during a phone interview Wednesday. “So we’re probably about three months behind.”

A Hardee’s sign posted in the empty grass lot on West 19th Street South, just east of Highway 14 and US6, says the fast food restaurant is “coming late spring 2018.” Spring officially ended June 21, and the only indication of construction is the silk skirt staking the edge of the property. Westermajer said the plan is to hopefully begin dirt work by next week.

What appeared to be a construction crew working near the Hardee’s site Wednesday was actually a team of Newton WaterWorks employees carrying out a water main project. However, City of Newton Development Specialist Craig Armstrong said the two projects, although on the same site, do not affect each other. The Hardee’s construction delays, he said, are likely attributed to issues with the site plan, among other things.

“They needed to revise their site plan. It wasn’t a major revision, but it does require a redrew of the site plan. As soon as that’s received, it should be one-two-three, pull the trigger and be done,” Armstrong said. “In the meantime, they’re still planning to do the clearing and grubbing of the site. That should, hopefully, start in a couple of weeks.”

Soil issues also delayed the construction, Armstrong said. An area where there was once an underground fuel storage tank doesn’t have the necessary stability to support the foundation. Armstrong said it was a minor problem but did affect the timing of the restaurant’s release.

Westermajer confirmed the soil issues. To his knowledge, the former Juice and Junk gas station tanks were removed from the ground, but the dirt was not compacted correctly. He said there may be soil contamination issues to be dealt with, but crews won’t know for sure until the project is started.

“Where we had the building located on the site was right over part of the tanks, and we’d have to go back and do a lot of mitigation on the soil and everything else,” Westermajer said. “After we approached the city, we went back and moved the building and repositioned the building on site and, hopefully, we don’t have any problems.”

The biggest problem right now, Westermajer added, is that most subcontractors are very busy. Westar Foods narrowed down four subcontractors to complete the dirt work only to discover they’re all booked solid. However, Westermajer said the franchise managed to track down a contractor that is expected to be on site within the next 10 days or so. He hopes the project will be fully completed within 90 days before winter.

“Everything is ongoing. It’s going to happen, it’s just a little later than all of us would have preferred,” Armstrong said. “When you see structure coming out of the ground you’ll know it won’t be long before you can have your biscuits and gravy or whatever particular Hardee’s treat that you like.”

Built at the former Juice and Junk site near the Interstate 80 exit 164 passageway, Hardee’s announced its plans to construct a Newton-based restaurant a little more than two years ago. At the same time, the city council approved a proposal from 4G Properties to purchase approximately 1.2 acres for $100,000, with the intention of building another unit for the nearly 60-year-old fast food chain. That estimate was later reduced to $80,000 due to additional preparation costs.

In 2018, the Newton Daily News reported the investment from the Colorado-based 4G Properties will be more than $1 million. City leaders believe Hardee’s will be a nice addition to the corridor near I-80, especially when many grew concerned with the former Juice and Junk building property remaining vacant for more than 10 years, presenting what city planners saw as a poor image at one of the primary entrances to Newton.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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