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MegaMart Mandeville on track but ...

Published:Wednesday | July 25, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer

MegaMart is building its fourth big-box retail store, this one in Bloomfield, Mandeville. The $1.2-billion build-own-lease deal put together by Scotia Investments, part of the Scotiabank Group Jamaica, will allow MegaMart to devote its cash to its core business, selling food and household items at low prices.

However, with the already constricting traffic problems in Mandeville, particularly in the vicinity of the establishment along Perth and Greenvale roads, this situation is projected to get worse once the establishment is opened in December.

Gassan Azan, chairman and chief executive officer of MegaMart Wholesale Club, said in the building permit it calls for the road to be widened. However, he said the Government is yet to acquire the land or begin construction to widen the road and this is a major concern.

"Although the entrance to the new store is along Greenvale Road, the adjacent road needs expanding. We haven't heard from the Government as yet. We have designated about four acres for parking, but this will certainly not ease the traffic problems that will occur," Azan said.

The new building, with some 80,000 square feet of floor space, is being built to MegaMart's specifications, which have evolved since it put up Jamaica's first superstore in Portmore 12 years ago.

For example, a separate entrance has been built to the food court, allowing that part of the premises to remain open for a longer period. The bakery is also in a different position compared to earlier stores, which could have the effect of spreading the smell of freshly baked bread more widely.

Azan said despite the intermittent weather conditions that Mandeville is known for, construction on the facility is progressing fairly well towards the proposed December 18 opening. "We have managed to work around it and have had to be playing catch-up," Azan said.

The project will create more than 200 new permanent jobs and there will also be business opportunities, especially for small farmers in the parish, who will have the opportunity to supply their farm produce to the store.