Proposed Hy-Vee store plans to expand

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The city of Manhattan has been involved in a downtown redevelopment controversy for the past several months.

The latest and perhaps most disputed issue has been surrounding the implementation and the expansion of a Hy-Vee grocery store in the north side of the downtown redevelopment area.

An amendment to the store’s development plan was passed earlier this month, adding an additional 10,000 square feet onto its original 68,500 square feet design, said Karen Mayse, president for Manhattan’s League of Women Voters.

“With that vote, the store basically had the green light to build,” said city commissioner Jim Sherow, who voted against the amendment.

“The store just wasn’t meeting the original layout and design that everybody had agreed upon,” he said. “I think the other commissioners who voted for it weren’t happy with it; they just didn’t see a viable alternative.”

City Commissioner Bruce Snead said he voted for the expansion because the role of the north district – where the Hy-Vee will be located – in the financing of downtown redevelopment was an important consideration.

He said he felt passing the amendment was the best action for moving the South district reconstruction forward.

However, Mayse said League members thought the city should have better planning when it comes to the redevelopment.

There are already four large grocery stores within a mile of where the Hy-Vee will be located, and she said the League thinks the new store will put at least one of them out of business.

“You’re causing the problem you were hoping to solve with redevelopment,” she said.

Because of the amendment, Mayse said the new grocery store will not only be more than twice the size of the Dillons near Tuttle Creek Boulevard, but it also will come within four feet of the city’s historic Strausser house – the oldest standing house in Manhattan.

In addition, she said it will limit the total amount of parking for the area’s proposed housing developments.

“We think it’s really important to have housing down there,” Mayse said. “We need a mixed development in that area, and having housing will provide consumers who will frequent businesses downtown.”

Limited parking leads to limited living space, she said.

Despite much opposition, the expansion has been mostly finalized.

The only aspect in question depends on whether the state law prohibiting the sale of wine and spirits in supermarkets is changed.

If this happens, Hy-Vee plans to build even bigger, she said.

Mayse also said at this point, the community does not have much faith in the redevelopment plans, in terms of believing what they were initially told.

But Snead said he disagreed.

There are residents who will never be happy with the redevelopment’s outcome, Snead said, but there also are those who understand that during the planning process, ideas evolve and are modified.

“I think Hy-Vee will be successful in this community,” he said. “The public concern about downtown redevelopment is an important one, and one we need to address with presentation and the sharing of information of where we are, and where we’re going.”

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