Construction has begun on the planned Walmart Supercenter to be built on Elmira Street in Athens Township.

The 186,000-square-foot store will be approximately 82,000 square feet larger than the current store, according to a release from Walmart. The store, to be built on the former Bob's Honda property behind the current location, is expected to open in summer 2014.

Construction work will be managed by CEI Engineering of Scranton. The current store will remain open during construction, the release states.

When the new store nears completion, activity will begin to migrate from the current store to the new one, allowing demolition of the existing facility to begin, Skip Schneider of CEI told township supervisors last year. Once demolished, the site of the old store will become a parking area.

Up to 60 new associates will be hired to work in the larger store, according to Walmart.

The Supercenter will feature a grocery area including a selection of produce, dairy, dry goods and staples, beverages, frozen foods, canned and packaged goods, baking items and household supplies, according to the release.

The store will also continue to sell apparel, health and beauty aids, electronics, toys, lawn and garden items, jewelry, fabrics, automotive products, home furnishings, hardware, sporting goods, pet supplies, housewares and crafts.

The store will be built with energy-efficient technology and environmentally friendly features, including skylights, LED lighting, low-flow toilets and faucets and a recycling program, the release states.

The project, approved by Athens Township supervisors in 2012, had been delayed while developers waited for additional paperwork necessary in order to proceed with the project, including a highway occupancy permit from the state Department of Transportation.

Plans called at that time for the store to include additional commercial establishments inside it, such as a retail space, restaurant and hair salon. Supervisors approved a conditional use permit allowing the additional establishments in Jan. 2012.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: