It’s been rumored for several years, but now it’s official.

Envision Contractors picked up a building permit last week for the shell of a 25,148-square-foot Burlington Store in Gateway Commons.

That means no more drives to Evansville to shop at the off-price retailer formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory.

The chain currently has 736 stores in 45 states with 47,000 employees.

Ed Ray, chief operating officer of Gulfstream Commercial Services, which is developing the shopping center off Kentucky 54, said, “Gulfstream and its partners are continuing to work hard to bring new and key retail partners to Owensboro.”

Pet Supplies Plus, one of the nation’s largest pet supply chains, announced in February that it was coming to Gateway Commons.

The coronavirus pandemic slowed those plans.

But Ray said construction is about to begin on that building.

Burlington Stores is the largest commercial announcement in town since the pandemic began in March.

Ray said Gateway Commons is now a retail hub for the region.

“People are coming from surrounding counties in Kentucky and Indiana,” he said. “Malco and Hobby Lobby are big draws.”

Burlington is expected to be a major draw.

The company had net sales of $7.3 billion last year.

Its website says it offers merchandise at up to 60% off other retailers’ prices.

Burlington said in May that it expects to open 64 new stores this year, while relocating or closing 26.

Before the pandemic, it had planned to build 80 new stores.

Sixteen stores have been shifted from this fall to next spring.

The company’s website says its roots go back to 1924, when it was founded as a wholesaler of women’s coats and junior suits.

It opened its first retail store in 1972 in Burlington, New Jersey.

In 2014, Burglington Coat Factory began rebranding its stores to simply Burlington Stores, to show that it sold more than coats.

At one time, many of the chain’s stores were 70,000 square feet or larger.

But they’ve been getting smaller through the years.

This year, the average size for a new store is 40,000 square feet.

The one in Evansville is 39,000 square feet, according to a news story when it was being built two years ago.

Today, Burlington Stores ranks 451 on the Fortune 500 — an annual list of the 500 largest American companies based on total revenues.

A company spokeswoman said in an email that she couldn’t comment about the projected opening date and number of employees for the local store at this time.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301,

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301

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