John P. Duenas managing partner at Duenas Bordallo & Associates; told the Journal The Home Depot can meet its stated target of a groundbreaking between August and December 2006.

"Once we submit the permits and the permits are approved they could begin site work."

Duenas Bordallo retained by the "big box" giant are dealing with permitting and utility issues and are "entering the phase that begins with the preparation of construction drawings " Duenas said. "Once they are done they will be submitted to the government for permitting. That will be done some time in August."

He said to date the home improvement company and its associates are reviewing plans for its store.

"We have a preliminary concept design submitted to Home Depot and they’re reviewing it at this time. They have a consultant they have hired to monitor the process; he works out of California. This company handled the due diligence process and is also overseeing the concept design phase.

"At the same time there is also a review by the Home Depot people "" the construction manager for Home Depot is also reviewing the submittals."

Speaking at a press conference together with Home Depot representatives on Feb. 10 Gov. Felix P. Camacho assured them that the permitting process would be without problems.

GovGuam agencies had been helpful Duenas said. "We haven’t had any problems with any of the agencies. The dialogue is very smooth."

While some questions related to utilities remain Duenas does not expect anything untoward. "There is low water pressure there "" we will have to deal with that. There will probably be some conditions of design; we don’t expect anything out of the ordinary."

The site has been cleared for access. Whether the Home Depot store would also be accessed directly from Marine Corps Drive is still uncertain.

"That has been discussed " Duenas said. "It hasn’t been worked out completely with the people involved in the process. We’d have to cross public land and another property."

The road in question gives access to the Sejong Korean restaurant and Maeda Pacific Corp. and is adjacent to the Tamuning pump station and close to the Guam Girl Scouts’ building. "That would be the expected point at which it would intersect Marine Corps Drive " Duenas said.

A signal to allow traffic to enter the Home Depot lot will be installed on Airport Road.

The signal is part of the design process Duenas said. "We are also coordinating with [the Department of] Public Works for the signal " he said. "They [Home Depot] are located on a blind curve right at the intersection of their access road."

The signal is planned adjacent to the border between Home Depot and the Mai’ana Airport Plaza Hotel Duenas said. "The signal system also has to be reviewed and approved by the airport authority. Right of way [for Airport Road] belongs to the airport.

"Home Depot is expected to fund all the necessary costs for the signalization."

The engineering company received a notice to proceed from Home Depot in May he said. "They gave us a notice to proceed with a concept design of the site work." A local consultant will supervise assembly of the site drawings and whatever architectural issues have to be addressed he said. Site work was preliminary for building construction Duenas said.

For years the home improvement giant sent representatives periodically to Guam but in June 2003 a broker from Hawaii began to look at selected sites as exclusively reported at the time in the Journal. The paper reported exclusively in August 2005 that the Airport Road site was chosen. Calvo Realty & Management Co. and its partner Modern ASPAC Development Inc. subleased the Airport Road property from the Mendiola family. As the paper first revealed Home Depot signed a lease on Feb. 9 for 13 acres of a 24-acre property in Tamuning for which it plans a 135 00 square-foot building and an 18 000 square-foot garden center. The store is expected to provide an initial 200 jobs.

Home Depot is an approved vendor to the U.S. government and announced in January that corporate strategy for Home Depot is to derive more sales from services and supply to professional contractors and other professional markets. Guam is set to receive an influx of military personnel that will include 8 000 U.S. Marines and their dependents as well as Navy and Air Force personnel. The fiscal 2007 defense budget includes $208 million in military construction projects for Guam. MBJ