Mayor Graham Richard today led a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of construction of the new Wal-Mart Supercenter store at Southtown Centre.

Wal-Mart recently purchased 22 acres of property next to the Menards site to build a 220,000 square foot Supercenter. The store is expected to open in late summer/early fall of 2006.

“We are excited about the bright future at Southtown Centre with Wal-Mart serving as an anchor facility,” said Mayor Graham Richard. “Hundreds of jobs will be created as we bring hope and opportunity back to an underserved area of our community.”

“We have all worked very hard to see the redevelopment of Southtown come to fruition,” said Barry Sturges, Southtown Centre LLC. “With the introduction of Wal-Mart, the anchor retailers are complete. We will now focus on filling in with a variety of smaller retailers and businesses.”

“We are pleased to provide continued support to the Fort Wayne economy through the creation of good jobs, additional tax revenue and a well-established charitable giving and volunteer program,” said Keith Morris, regional community affairs director for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Several additional projects are moving ahead at Southtown Centre. The new U.S. 27/Southtown intersection has been built. Construction is underway for the Menards store. The new Menards store is scheduled to open in mid-March 2006.

Construction is underway for the new Firestone store. The new store is expected to open in February 2006. Once the new facility opens, the existing Firestone store will be torn down. STAR Financial Bank has agreed to build a new branch location at Southtown Centre. A first of its kind regional police and fire training academy is expected to open in late 2007.