MONTEVIDEO — Work should get underway in early December on a project to convert the former Coborns supermarket facility along state Highway 7 in Montevideo into a wellness center.

The Chippewa County Board of Commissioners approved a request Tuesday by CCM Health, formerly known as the Chippewa County Montevideo Hospital, to move ahead with the project. The action allows CCM Health to award bids within a $2.5 million construction budget.

Brian Lovdahl, CEO of CCM Health, told the commissioners on Tuesday that Montevideo City Council members approved the same request Monday evening. CCM Health is owned by the city and county.

“Pretty exciting, things are coming full circle,” said Lovdahl while outlining the project to the commissioners.

The overall project cost is estimated at $3.34 million. CCM Health purchased the 35,000-square-foot facility from Coborns for $554,000 in April. It has begun some work inside the building to prepare for the project.

Coborns closed the supermarket at the end of July 2018.

Lovdahl said bid packages are going out to interested contractors, with expectations of awarding them to allow work to begin in December. The project is scheduled for an April 1 completion, but the health system’s director said he is hopeful of seeing an opening in March.

J & D Construction of Montevideo developed the plans and bid specifications for the facility. Lovdahl said the company has received inquiries from local contractors for the work needed. “Everything I have heard is all local,” he said of the contractor interest.

The main features of the wellness center include an inside walking track, one-half basketball courts, pickleball court, free weights and weight machine exercise areas, racquetball studio, cardio studio, conference room and a 2,000-square-foot indoor play area for children with park equipment. It will also hold a tenant suite for health care services, a home health center, demonstration kitchen and locker rooms.

The County Commissioners and City Council members approved the project in April after a public hearing. At the time, it was emphasized that the project would be funded and operated by the health care system without taxpayer support.

The project is aiming to be cash positive by its ninth year of operations, according to information provided the commissioners. Plans by CCM Health for the facility aim for a membership-supported operation with hopes of seeing 1,000 memberships in the first year. A membership base of 729 is the break-even point.