BATAVIA – Work is scheduled to begin next spring on a major expansion project for the Menards home improvement store in Batavia, with completion expected before the end of 2020.
The Batavia Plan Commission approved the proposal for additions to the garden center and the shipping and receiving areas at the main building, as well as a new accessory structure for building materials, at a public hearing on Nov. 6.
“I think it’s a great plan and I’m excited to see our Batavia Menards expand,” plan commission member Susan Stark said.
The gigantic store at 300 N. Randall Road was constructed more than two decades ago.
Tyler Edwards, a representative from the Menards headquarters in Eau Claire, Wis., told commission members that expansion is critical for the Batavia store’s continued success.
“Retail stores are in an adapt-or-die situation,” Edwards said, explaining that the expanded special order pick-up area behind the main building will cater to changing customer expectations.
The same is true for the proposed 20,056-square-foot drive-thru accessory structure housing lumber, shingles and other bulky construction materials, Edwards said.
The mammoth store occupies a 13-acre tract on the east side of Randall between McKee Street on the south and Mill Street to the north, linked by a curving service road running along the west side of the retailer’s 390-space parking lot.
“Our goal is to fit the expansion within the site,” Edwards told the plan commission.
In addition to the garden center building addition, the adjacent outdoor merchandising area with bulk lawn and garden supplies is to be expanded, building on successful component of the retailer’s business.
“Garden center sales are great,” Edwards told the planners.
The commission approved several zoning and building code modifications to accommodate the plan.
One of these includes the elimination of 24 spaces from the parking lot to allow for the outdoor lawn and garden expansion.
Another would allow the huge accessory structure to be nearly 27 feet tall, much higher than the limit of 15 feet specified in the city code.
The linear structure at the southeast corner of the Menards property would extend along the east property line all the way to McKee Street, behind the Steak ’n Shake restaurant to the west.
Plan commission Chairman Tom LaLonde was concerned about the height, noting the proximity of the Mill Pond townhouses to the east.
LaLonde expressed surprise that no residents of the townhouses spoke out at the public hearing to object to the building height.
“If I lived back there I would be screaming,” LaLonde said.
City staff Planner Drew Rackow said that the Community Development Department staff supports the height modification in order to allow for storage of larger building materials and noted the presence of a storm water detention pond between the Menards property and the townhouses.
“The adjacent residential detention area would continue to provide a significant buffer from this building to the adjacent residential uses,” Rackow said in his report to the commission.
The other members of the commission did not object to the building height, which was approved along with the rest of the plans.
The new construction materials building will occupy what is now a detention area handing storm water run-off from the Menards property.
As a result, a new detention area is to be established on a 1.4-acre parcel on the other side of McKee, immediately to the east of the Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers restaurant site that is currently under construction.
The city’s engineering department is working with Menards to determine how the storm water pipes are to be routed under McKee Street to the new detention pond, Rackow said.
With plan commission approval, the Menards proposal will go next to the Batavia City Council for consideration, but a date will not be set until Menards and the engineering department complete plans for the detention pond, Rackow said.
The garden center addition to south side of the building will cover 3,239 square feet.
A 6,392-square-foot shipping area is to be added to the northeast corner of the existing building.
Behind the building along the east side, the special order pick-up area would be expanded with a 2,880-square-foot addition, along with a 1,020-square-foot receiving area addition.
Menards is the third-largest home improvement chain in the nation, with 350 stores in 14 Midwestern states.