It’s my personal favorite main line grocery chain. It’s not Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, but as far as an everyday grocery store goes, Hy-Vee is for me.
I was at Hy-Vee’s new palace of a store in Olathe on day two of its operation.
And among other things, it houses a gorgeous, contemporary Asian restaurant, a deli, and every cuisine known to man – all ready to carry out – a bar even!
Hey, what’s not to like about a bar in the grocery store?
It gives us guys something to do while hanging with the wife at the store. And what a great business development tool – you sit down at the bar, throw back a few and buy three times as much as you ever intended.
However, that’s not what today’s story is about. This column is about Hy-Vee’s aging store at 122nd and State Line.
So Hy-Vee corporate goes to Leawood with the message, “We need a renovation and we need a half cent sales tax increase to make that happen.”
And Leawood says, can’t do that, but they would toss in a few mill to update the exterior.
Which leaves me in a cynical mood, thinking, this is a for profit, private business, doing well, thriving for years in Leawood, but all the residents, whether you shop there or not, now have to pitch in to give them a nicer, newer store.
Leawood isn’t willing to do an interior rehab, but they will kick in for the exterior. What a great day to be a commercial developer in Leawood!
They cite a May 2013 meeting in which the city denied the company’s request for a half-cent sales tax increase.
“It’s going to be really inconvenient,” said Hy-Vee customer Jennifer Headley.
“Of course we’re concerned about how it`s going to impact our property values, having a big old vacant building here,” added Hy-Vee customer Ken Fancolly.
In the end, will it really go down?
June 1st is just 30 days away which leaves an appropriate amount of hostage negotiation time.
My bet is we see a last minute resolution.
And here’s the first hint; Leawood Mayor for Life Peggy Dunn describes that meeting as a “preliminary one” and says improvements outside would’ve been just fine, but that money for fixes inside the store would violate city policy. “
We shared that information with them,” Dunn says. “They said they were going to go back and sharpen their pencils, and come back for a subsequent meeting. That was my last conversation with Hy-Vee. So it was about a year ago.”
Dunn said that’s why she was surprised and disappointed to hear the store would close, and why there was never a public hearing.
Hy-Vee originally wanted to build along the 135th Street Corridor, but Leawood and Dunn have put those approvals on hold.
“I would encourage anyone who wants to voice their objection to it closing to contact Hy-Vee corporate,” she says. “Because unfortunately we have very little we can do as a city to force a business owner to remain open if it is their decision to close.”
Hy-Vee, on the other hand, seems to be encouraging customers to contact their city council representative with concerns.
So the stage is set, the clock is ticking and I expect Dunn will come up with an 11th hour solution to retain the store.
Hy-Vee means business about its future, having awarded Burns & McDonnell a $20 million contract for connecting new sites that include, of all things, cocktail service, just like the new Olathe store. For starters Burns & Mc will renovate 50 of Hy-Vee’s Midwestern stores.
See how the plot is thickening?
My prediction; Hy-Vee and Leawood will agree on a solution by May 25.
However the fact remains that the citizens of Leawood – or any other city – shouldn’t have to pay a sales tax to rehab a privately owned business.
Unless of course they are given the opportunity to vote on it. Guess we’ll see.