Construction equipment arrived Monday morning, July 30, to the lot of the new Walmart store on Tehachapi Boulevard and broke ground on a project that has been pending for about nine years due to legal hurdles.

Just a week ago, the city finalized permits with the construction company and paved the way for dirt to begin moving on the site, bringing relief to city officials like Mayor Pro-Tem Susan Wiggins, who gathered in the city hall annex July 24 with the Superintendent Craig Stewart of Eleven Western Builders, Inc.

"I couldn't be happier," Wiggins said.

Development Services Director Jay Schlosser said that the city will work alongside Eleven Western Builders, Inc., throughout the project, which they hope to complete by summer 2019.

"We can't do these jobs without a good relationship," Schlosser said.

Although equipment was seen on the site on Friday, a ripper device was used Monday to actually begin loosening the soil. 

Schlosser said the 12-month construction time frame seems reasonable, especially considering the impacts that winter weather may have on the project.

City Manager Greg Garrett called signing the permits and starting construction  "the next chapter in the Walmart book."

Eleven Western Builders is familiar with building in small towns and recently constructed a new Walmart store in Ridgecrest. Stewart said he has also been available to answer the public's questions after placing his cell phone number on a news release that was shared on social media. 

Down the road, other businesses are expected to open near the Walmart site. Schlosser said Walmart owns the adjoining lots and that there is a potential developer to take them over. 

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