National craft retailer Hobby Lobby is planning to open a store in Olympia, the city has confirmed.
Hobby Lobby has applied for a permit to remodel the former Kmart building at 4141 Martin Way E., according to interim building official Rob Bradley.
Hobby Lobby is a privately held company based in Oklahoma with nearly 600 stores nationwide. The company has attracted controversy over its objections to providing insurance coverage for contraceptives, as required in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that companies like Hobby Lobby can be exempt from the rule because of religious preferences.
The company received a permit in June to clean up contamination from the former tenant’s auto shop, Bradley said. He estimates a permit for the remodeling would be issued by the end of July or first part of August. The city’s fire department has also reviewed Hobby Lobby’s permit application, said Bradley, who is also the fire marshal. Hobby Lobby has also applied for a sign permit, according to the city. All applications have been made under the name MGP X Olympia II LLC.
The Olympia store is not listed on the company’s website for 2014 openings. Hobby Lobby plans to open stores in Seattle, Tacoma and Yakima in the fall.
In response to an inquiry, a representative for Hobby Lobby told The Olympian that “at this point, there is nothing to confirm” about the proposed store in Olympia.
Located at the Olympia-Lacey border, the former Kmart store closed in 2012. The building is 84,000 square feet. However, Hobby Lobby’s permit sought to improve only 55,000 square feet of total building space.
State Rep. Sam Hunt (D-District 22) told The Olympian he was disappointed to learn that Hobby Lobby will open the store about two blocks from his house. Hunt said it is not the company’s place to decide on a woman’s right to contraception.
“Of all the places to go, I would think they’d want to move into a more friendly environment,” Hunt said. “I think it’s very sad that they’re coming here.”
City Manager Steve Hall said Olympia is primarily concerned about whether the proposed business goes through the proper channels for permits and construction.
“I think it’s good that the vacant space will be filled,” Hall said of the site.