UNION TWP, Ohio - Candida Jandes and Misty Hartness stood along orange protective fencing Friday outside what will become Jungle Jim's International Market in Eastgate.
They looked at the monorail mounted above the front entrance. They watched workers cut metal posts and drill holes for a new grocery cart corral. They noticed paper covering the windows so nobody could see inside.
However, the Amelia residents didn't get an answer to the question that was on their minds.
"When is Jungle Jim's in Eastgate going to be completed?" asked Jandes.
Hartness didn't miss a beat with her follow up query, "When is it going to open?"
Jungle Jim's Director of Development Phil Adams' standard reply is "late spring or early summer."
"We don't have a date," he said. "Most people don't believe us, but we really don't have a date."
The complex being remodeled into Jungle Jim's first store outside of Fairfield is on Eastgate Drive in Clermont County's Union Township. It formerly housed a bigg's store and a mall featuring numerous other businesses.
Adams said the work is being done piece-by-piece to make sure it's right for customers.
"As we walk through what customers are going to run into -- how they feel about it -- it just might rub us wrong and we want to change it," he said. "Or, we stumble across something that's really cool."
Every change in plans requires a new inspection and permit from Clermont County.
Building official Carl Lamping said the typical number of inspections for a project is two, but Jungle Jim's has had 23 so far and more are expected.
According to Adams, a bit of corporate tomfoolery is going on as well, just for fun.
"We've got the real store that we're building and we have real drawings, but you also have to put out fake drawings," he said. "So, we have three different drawings out there for our competitors."
Traffic is already congested in the Eastgate area and the opening of Jungle Jim's and the addition of 1,000 jobs at nearby Total Quality Logistics is expected to add to the problem.
So, on Monday, work begins on improving access to the Jungle Jim's site from Eastgate Boulevard. A street to Aicholtz Road is being moved and an access ramp directly into the store parking log is being built.
"It's like a Category 5 hurricane," said Adams. "Everyone you know is typically trying to leave the hurricane. We're the center of the eye. Everyone is trying to get to us."
Jandes and Hartness said the thing that excites them the most is the change to boost the local economy.
"I think it's exciting," Jandes said. "It's going to be good for the area. It's going to bring in some jobs for people."
Added Hartness, "It means a lot of jobs for people who would really use them right now."
A job fair is planned at Jungle Jim's Eastgate store about a month before the facility opens.
Adams said research shows customers are likely to come from as far away as Charleston, West Virginia, plus Lexington and Louisville. He said the Eastgate location is closer to Louisville than the Fairfield site.
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