KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -- It’s an empty lot now, but after the city breaks ground Thursday, the corner of Minnesota Avenue and Fifth Street will be transformed into a full-service grocery store.

The Merc Co+op signed an agreement to open a 14,000 square foot grocery store. The store is set to open in summer 2020. The groundbreaking ceremony will occur at 1 p.m.

The Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas/Wyandotte County is investing $7 million into the project. It’s offsetting some of the cost with the sale of the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown. The co-op will pay property taxes and utilities.

While it seems like a large investment for a city to put into a grocery store, Director of Economic Development Katherine Carttar says it’s hopefully the start of a wave of development.

“I think we’d like to see additional grocery stores, particularly in the northeast KCK. I think our participation will certainly be felt, but it will be felt at a slightly different level. This is our first, hopefully a catalytic project," she said.

The Merc operates cooperative grocery stores in Lawrence.

The KCK store will be smaller than 901 Iowa, but it will remain a full-service grocery store with produce, salad bar, packaged meat and seafood and grocery as well as a deli and cafe. Product selection will depend on what the KCK community wants and needs from a local grocery store.

Everyone can shop at the co-op, and anyone can own. When owners shop, they earn points towards a year-end rebate. Find out more at www.themerc.coop/ownership.

The grocery store will have nearly 60 dedicated spaces within the current lot. Additional street parking will be available as soon as this spring.

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