Paul Wilson: Hy-Vee Wants to Hy-Jack Leawood


Peggy Dunn

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!

d7ab9_vegetable_HyVeeMarketGrille1The city refuses Hy-Vee’s request and then Hy-Vee executives announce they will pull out, June 1st blaming “a lack of city support” and resistance by Leawood officials for their decision to close.

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.

storeolathe1in2014Hy-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.

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32 Responses to Paul Wilson: Hy-Vee Wants to Hy-Jack Leawood

  1. Stomper says:

    Good piece, Paul. Looks like a high stakes game of Texas Hold Em between Hy-Vee and Leawood. Some one’s going to blink here.

    On a side note, what brand is the house scotch?

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Stomper, I’m not a scotch guy so I don’t know. I’m trying really hard to become a burbon guy but just have never been much of a drinker, outside of margaritas and Long Islands. (yeah, I know what that last one it….)
      Speaking of which, you and I are way past due….

      • bigtimeharley says:

        wislon…don’t drink and drive…we really need you.
        please comment onmy story…goal is to reach 100

  2. Jim says:

    On the surface of it, this seems to be completely insane on HyVee’s part. What makes them any different than private business “X” right next door that wants to upgrade their facilities on the public’s dime? On the other hand, I suppose it’s a pretty savvy move on their part. You’ll never know the answer if you don’t ask the question, right? I don’t have a dog in the fight, but that would piss me off as a citizen of Leawood if they came to me with THAT request. HyVee is in the Top 50 of the largest privately owned businesses in the USA. I’d go tell them to pound sand. Then I’d go in and pick me up a couple of cowboy grillers. Them ‘sombitches be delicious.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Thanks as always, great, well reasoned comments from you without fail.

    • mike t. says:

      I agree Jim. When I first heard about this, I was like “whaaa???” Another company holding a city hostage for improvements they could easily pay for themselves. But that’s the way the game is played nowadays.

      I used to shop at that store and now go to the Hy-Vee at 76th and State Line. I could care less about having a bar in the store…I’m there to buy groceries, get home and get on to other stuff, not get drunk. I do that elsewhere.

      Meanwhile, this little stunt caused me to lose a little respect for Hy-Vee. I thought they were better than that.

  3. bigtimeharley says:

    hy vee wins. sorry should know this.
    they’ll give away a few trips…place some money strategically
    in place…and guess who does the work…let’s guess!!!!!
    god forbid the leawood residents should go to wal mart at 135.
    God forbid those leawood resident who cheered when sterling got
    booted should have to shop with those African americans.
    Or go to the price chopper….or maybe go down to dean and delucas (the
    really high priced store).
    come on paul…hy vee has some tokens for the pols.
    this is an easy one…
    and guess who does the work?

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Geebus, Harley, you dolt, read the story for CONTENT. I said this leaves 30 days hostage negotiation, Hy-Vee will win before the 25th. You just wear me out. You read my story, tell me I’m wrong, then state my position as your own. Classic.

      • bigtimeharley says:

        wislon….ne ersaid youwere wrong…said hy vee wins
        you never said what would happen…you were wishy washy.
        I said hy vee wins…they got the money..will have the
        votes if needed…and will have the power to upset the
        leawood shoppers….
        big business wins…you know this paul…I’m not
        telling you anyting new…you know that in the end
        hy vee gets what they want.
        leawood will cave in and you know who will get the
        contract to do the work…uh…..guess!!!!
        don’t be wishy washy…make your point…use previous
        examples to back up your point….use current examples
        of why your point is valid …then state what will happen.
        so we’re on the same page…hy vee wins…
        man you are testy…you and stomper need to get together
        for some Mogen david and chill out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • the dude says:

        Wilsun, let realtor in his own mind bagel boy negotiate this deal for Hy-Vee and leawood and just watch the chips fly.

  4. kansas karl says:

    Is the developer Lane 4? Prior to buying the PV shops and Corinth Sq they knew they could secure a CID for those properties. CID’s are meant to rehab blighted non-performing properties in neighborhoods needing help, where the risk to the developer is high and the city has an interest in revitalizing the area, yet these spineless politicians give up the sales tax when they are held up, it’s not their money. Both Leawood and PV/Mission Hills are not blighted, yet we tax ourselves to guarantee profits to slick douches in expensive suits.

    By the way this only works with big box stores with lots of low paying jobs, little mom and pop business’s need to get out of the way cause we will all be saved by taxing ourselves for the big box store.

    The Unified Gov of Wyco has let a contract to Lane 4 to redevelop Indian Springs hoping to draw more money to the area, yet the obvious solution is staring them in the face, many older malls are experiencing growth and profits by catering to the Hispanic mom and pop stores, but they want more white folks.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Karl, I’ve not gone by there, commercial property change management like mad, I don’t know who holds that right now, but your point it spot on, regardless of the developer. What a great business to be in.

      • bigtimeharley says:

        what about the moving business? companies move
        across state lines …your business should be booming….
        and they need a ton of boxes!!!!
        just kidding…i’ll drop off a bottle of mog david at the
        office….chill out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        and don'[t text and drive…who else can I make fun of on
        here besides hearne/glaze/chuck/mancow and others?
        you’re the perfect target.
        smile dude…itsspringtime!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        and I’m preparing my 2nd story for next week publication.
        IT WILL BLOW THE SOCKS OFF KCC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. bigtimeharley says:

    HARLEY HITS A GRAND SLAM……speaking of pols and taxes and bad economics

    REVENUES….something Harley pointed out month and months ago..long
    berfore the numbers came out today….BROWNBACK SENDING KANSAS

    As an economic analayst if youread any of my articles about ku educaton and
    funds at the university I have consistently noted that our governor cut
    back budgets and has literally destroyed higher ed in Kansas. I have mentioned
    this many many time. Brownback gave tax cuts (of which I got one although
    I never asked for it)…stole companies from Missouri….cut taxes on various
    entittes and now KANSAS IS F*cked.
    distinct terms even considering ku and their lack of funds and howv it
    was killing the university. Now the numbers are out..and who predicted
    this huge problem? Harley.
    How can you cut taxes that way. How can you turn down federal dollars
    from the aca to help pay Medicaid and get another 80,000 people insured
    instead of the state taking the big hit????? How can this be.
    KU and how even self was pissed about the lackof funds and how the
    athletic department was going to take a hit. Heck…even the girls bball
    team took a big hit when they would not build the shrine for the players
    on the team.
    has been writing about this for month and months.
    Now the mayor and very wealthy wife of a huge construction company wants
    to give tax breaks to a supermarket from bum f*k Egypt.
    LETS GET THIS STRAIGHT….leawood should say no….we don’t have the
    revenue base and can’t afford the additional tax increase that is needed.
    Oh…they say this will add just $50 avmonth to your taxbill…bull…
    Listen to Harley…I’ve said it for years now…Kansas went the wrong way.
    Hy ve needs to be told…NO…..Kansas continues with the help of lobbyists
    to gie at and t 80 million a year to maintain telephone service in rural areas..
    its on your phone bill….take that 80 million and tell them (a t and t) to shove it.
    TRICKLE DOWN DOESV NOT WORK…what must we do to make you’understand
    that. Hyvee probably pays minimum wage…probably many of their employees
    are on food stamps/housing assistance….AND ANY BETS HY VEE IS AGAINST
    KANSAS GOT SUCKED INTO A BAD SITUATION. Harley knew it..wrote about
    it…pointed it out.
    Kansas is in trouble…ku is in trouble…all the education which once was the
    shinig light of our state faces real serious problems.
    TELL PEGGY TO SAY NO….no more giveaways to the already rich….
    its time to take back the nation…
    Look for more because where there’s smoke…theres fire.


  6. bigtimeharley says:

    peggy..if you read hearns blog (and we know you do..everyone in leawood
    love it) read this…you supported these tax gimmicks…they went well..
    now where is nick the stick and the rest of the tax breaks to special
    interests that were supposed to bring Kansas into the big tie
    peggy…tell hy vee…no go!!!!!! no roll….I’m sure your leawood milfs
    will find another place to shop…maybe with all the African americans
    like sterlings hooker girlfriend down at wal mart at 135!!!!!!

    Brownback continues his deception.

    Legislators were privately warned in a series of harried meetings that revenue might continue to plummet below expectations well into the fiscal year starting July 1 — possibly creating a two-year shortfall in excess of $300 million.

    Removing the Koch brothers millions of dollars and 191,000 other “small” businesses revenues from Kansas income taxation has reared its ugly head and resulted in serious revenue deficits four years before it was originally predicted to cause major budget problems in 2018.

    Everything has fallen apart for Brownback and his conservative followers that aid and abet his agenda in the House and Senate during the month of April and the FBI is now knocking at their doors. Stan Hazlett and his legal ethics panel is not far behind.

    Voters must remember the unbelievable deception and ethical violations that have been used on Kansas citizens rights and vote to oust Brownback and his fellow criminal perpetrators in the August primary and the November general elections.

    ah yes…mr brownback will serve 2 terms…one in Topeka…the second
    in Leavenworth!!!!!! what a mess …and Harley spoke of it for almost 2 years!!!!!
    more to come!!!
    peggy….just say NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Dude in a lab coat , sneaking up on harley with a butterfly net says:

    Would you people stop agitating Harley. It’s going to take a turkey baster full of thorazine to shut this fruit cake up. I gotta go, just got a call that the H man was seen on the plaza claiming to be the love child of JC Nichols and Fatty Arbuckles big sister, Rotunda Arbuckle.

  8. Rainbow Man says:

    Wilson… check your facts before you say the store is thriving in the current location. Hy-Vee took over that former Bob’s IGA location in the late 80s. I think it has thrived from the perspective that it was a great community store that did a great job serving customers, but the profit of the store has underperformed on the Hy-Vee standard and standards of any operator. Hy-Vee has given up a lot to serve Leawood. The Hen House at 119th and Roe competed strongly with them in the 90s and early 2000s. Hy-Vee has done nothing but operate soundly in an outdated strip mall.

    So Hy-Vee wants to cash in a few chips and build a new location at a solid intersection instead of remaining on 123rd… Why not?

    Hy-Vee has been good for KC and created competition for the Cosentino’s and Ball’s who have strategically carved up their fiefdoms for decades… Hy-Vee has forced them to be better for the consumer. Hy-Vee employs thousands of Kansas Citians.

    Hy-Vee isn’t going anywhere in KC. Hy-Vee isn’t asking for anything different than what the Ball’s or Cosentino’s would ask for.

    Leawood has a choice to make. They need to blink on this one.

    • bigtimeharley says:

      I said hy vee will get what they want ….but peggy should say no.
      Kansas is in serious bad financial shape…this new conservative
      economic program has been a disaster..
      now someones got to pay for the mess that the governor
      ku…as I have said before is taking some huge cuts…and its gosing
      to kill than as it will do to the other educational funds in Kansas.
      don’t know the financials…but I love hy vees new store at
      its always packed and theyre committed to kc.
      but some pol has to say stop..this free giveaway to billionaires
      has to stop…and peggy cando it.
      Gov. Nixon had perfect timing with his veto.
      Kansas is in serious trouble.
      peggy should say no but once the money starts getting thrown
      around shell probably cave.
      ball/consentinos are ready to swoop in and take some more of
      the leawood market…
      but I agree…hy vee has madesome moves to be a big part of the
      community (high school worik/sports) etc.
      but someone has to make a stand against these giveaways
      …chance are peggy will blink ….and guess who does the work?

  9. balbonis moleskine says:

    What is stopping the property owners from courting another mid end non-boutique grocer such as Hen House or Cosentino’s from moving into the space? That anchor box is about 25 years old but it is a great location.

    Or does HyVee owns the space/complex and is holding the threat of a ‘dead strip mall’ over the heads of Leawood?

    • bigtimeharley says:

      hen house is at 119th and roe….conesntinos is at 95th and mission
      both might be too close to 119th and state line…
      but….wal mart would love that space!!!!!
      hy vee wants some cash for upgrades…and probably will get it
      unless leawood can get someone else to fill that space…
      that’s prime space….I’m guessing it should not behard to find
      someone to fill that space…
      interesting chess match.

  10. Orphan of the Road says:

    Perhaps Hy-Vee considered how much those Red-Legs in Leawood support KCMO’s TIF-flavored government cheese, they felt certain they would help out an friend.

    This throws a serious spanner in the works, How will Leawood children receive proper nutrition?

    They will show Hy Vee, throw a big bone to Cosentino.

    The horror of First-World Problems.

  11. Jack Springer says:

    Is this the beginning of the end for Johnson County?

    For decades the county has been bribing companies to move there offering tax advantages, free buildings, no taxes, and more. Hy-Vee is just playing the game with JoCo … a game that has progressed to where established businesses in JoCo now expect the same treatment as companies moving into the county.

    … and why shouldn’t they.

  12. mike says:

    It sounds like HyVee is pulling a WalMart on Leawood.

  13. Goose13 says:

    I could see a Walmart neighborhood Grocery store coming in. This is something sneaky walmart would do. They have the Money to pay for everything, not needing any money from the city.

  14. bigtimeharley says:


    Villa capri…a long time restaurant from 81st and Metcalf will relocated
    to 104th and Mastin…..!!!!!!
    I’m sure they’ll get no tif funds or special tax breaks for moving.

    grazie to Steve and Tony “the slot king” Scudiero!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. PB says:

    I wonder how this impacts the other businesses in that strip center if the Hy-Vee did indeed close? I would guess that there would have been some sort of agreement in their leases that was contingent upon having that anchor store in place in order to attract some traffic. I certainly don’t even have a harley-level working knowledge of commercial real estate, but got to think it would suck for them if they lose their magnet.

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