DOWNTOWN GROCERY: The Pro’s And Con’s

Take a few steps down Court Ave and you’ll find yourselves at the doorstep of any restaurant or bar. One thing you can’t walk to…

“If you live within a ten block radius of here you have to drive out to the suburbs just to get groceries,” says downtown resident, Jack Veers.

On Monday, the Des Moines city council is expected to approve a proposed Hy – Vee grocery store and apartment complex between 4th and 5th street downtown.
Restaurant owners question if the grocery store will fit into the Court Avenue culture.

“I think the greater question is, if people are coming down to entertainment district their number one priority isn`t to come for a grocery store.”

Carl Wertzberger, manages Court Avenue Brewing Company. He’s in favor of building an urban grocery store but not in the parking lot where his customers park.

“That would be a 100 less cars downtown which might be 4 people per car which is 400 people maybe so that obviously for our district that would be a negative,” says Wertzberger.

Aware of the concern, city manager, Rick Clark, says a grocery store in downtown is long overdue.

“It’s going to really ignite the avenue district.”

The site has struggled to be successful for the last decade but with Knapp Properties and Hy – Vee hoping to move into the vacant lot, the city says the proposal makes sense.

“Much of the housing downtown is centered within a few blocks of where we are standing. This is in a sense is the center of the residential area in our downtown.”

The city says their goal is to add substance to an area that continues to develop.

The city considered two other proposals by different developers: an indoor farmer’s market and movie theater. Clark says he is urging city council members to develop ideas to other parts of downtown in the future.

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