BY ANDREA HOLECEK, Times of Northwest Indiana 

HAMMOND | Cabela's, the-Nebraska based outdoors outfitter, hopes to complete construction and open its Hammond store by September, said the head of the local building trades union.

Cabela's officials have told Jim Strayer, business manager for the 25,000 members of the Northwest Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council, that construction of the 185,000-square-foot store -- complete with museum and aquarium -- will begin by March and is on an "accelerated" schedule.

Strayer said he met with Cabela's officials Thursday evening to discuss the project, its timeline and what type of contractors and tradesmen will be needed.

"It's doable, yes," he said. "They'll be working overtime on the project."

Cabela's spokesman James Powell acknowledged Friday the September target is "doable -- if everything goes well and the weather cooperates."

"But I'd hate to pin it down to an exact date," he said. "I'd say definitely by mid-fall."

Although Cabela's hasn't revealed the cost of the store's construction, the total project -- including the $14 million the company paid for the approximately 100-acre former Woodmar Country Club parcel -- is expected to be in the $100 million range, its officials have said.

Currently, site work on the 41 northern acres on which the store will be located is underway. Work includes grading and the installation of sewer and water lines.

Minneapolis-based Kraus-Anderson, builder of almost one dozen Cabela's stores, is the general contractor for the Hammond project. But specialized local contractors -- for plumbing, HVAC, electrical, etc. -- will be asked to bid on those portions of the work.

The company will have bid packages prepared by Feb. 1 and will meet with interested contractors the first week of next month, Strayer said.

"They're (Cabela's) looking for a two-to-three-week turnaround," he said. "That's the time contractors will have to submit their price, their bids. Then Cabela's will pick the winners, and they'll get underway."

Strayer said about 200 union tradesmen will be required for the store's construction. Concrete work, including the pouring of the building's footings, will be done first, along with in-ground piping and the installation of electrical conduit, he said.

Cabela's also is planning to build a store on a 30-acre site in Hoffman Estates. Peter Gugliotta, the village's senior planner, said Friday that project was approved Wednesday by the Plan Commission and is on the agenda for Tuesday's Zoning Board meeting.

"Our goal is for that process to be complete by the Jan. 15 village board meeting," Gugliotta said. "Cabela's goal is to start construction immediately afterwards. They hope to open in the fall."

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