Leawood Hy-Vee to close, despite neighbors' concerns - KCTV5

Leawood Hy-Vee to close, despite neighbors' concerns

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It's been a stable grocery store for decades, but a Hy-Vee that serves Johnson and Jackson counties will be closing despite concern from neighbors.

The city is turning down Hy-Vee's requests for money to renovate the store, so the store says they have no choice but to find a new location. The decision to close may be recent, but the store and the city set out on the path over one year ago.

Hy-Vee placed a letter in The Star on Tuesday after its most recent talks with Leawood, KS, broke down. An excerpt reads, "It is clear the city is opposed to a plan that would allow Hy-Vee to provide an updated retail experience for our Leawood customers. The city's stance is simply incompatible with our vision."

At issue are CIDs, or Community Improvement Districts, which are a tax placed on people who shop in a store to help the property owner pay for improvements. The catch is that the money can only be used for exterior improvements, but Hy-Vee wanted to use the money for exterior and interior upgrades at its store located at 122nd Street and State Line Road.

The City Council has repeatedly shot down the request, including the most recent one on Monday night, to use the money for all desired upgrades.

In response the company is closing the store of 26 years, leaving customers in the middle and on both sides of the issue.

"The ripple effect, I know most of these people, people will be leaving and there will be no anchor and this place is just going to be vacant," Leawood resident Ron Meek said.

"I love Hy-Vee, I do appreciate Hy-Vee, but I am not willing to pay for their interior upgrade. That's a Hy-Vee business decision that they need to find their own financing for," Leawood resident Sue Johnson said.

Regardless, the store will close June 1 and employees have already been reassigned.

"There's so many older people that live behind the neighborhood that really rely on that store. It's awful. We hate it," said Dianne Fletcher, a business owner.

Fletcher operates a business next door to the Hy-Vee. Plenty of her customers are there because of the grocery store. Her biggest worry is the future of her business she's spent 10 years building.

"Gosh, if we had this big black hole, what are we going to do? We hope they're still going to want to come here. We love our customers. We really want them to stay, but it's really difficult when you talk about that store leaving," she said.

Hy-Vee sent a statement saying in part that they're surprised and pleased the city wants to negotiate again:

"Hy-Vee appreciates the support of those who spoke at Monday night's City Council meeting in regard to the impending closure of the Leawood store. We were surprised and pleased to hear of the city's motion to invite us back to the table for further discussion of the store's future. We are grateful for the opportunity, and plan to attend the work session on May 19 to discuss the long term viability of the site. However, since reassignment of Leawood employees to other Hy-Vee locations is almost complete, the store will close as scheduled on June 1. If all interested parties can reach an agreement to keep a Hy-Vee in its current location, a newly renovated store could open its doors for business once again in the future."

Hy-Vee and the city will meet again on May 19 to talk about reopening the grocery store.

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