DOWNTOWN PLANS: City Approves Grocery Store

Des Moines City Council voted to move forward with a new grocery store downtown.

The Court Avenue lot has been empty for 13 years.

“We have five really strong proposals for a great site in downtown Des Moines,” said city manager, Rick Clark. “That’s something to rejoice about.”

The city says the proposal from Knapp Properties and Hy-Vee fits best.

“Financial capacity, good solid individuals that have a proven track record in the community,” said councilwoman, Christine Hensley, “and at the top of the list, I cannot tell you how many times we get asked about a grocery store.”

Even dissenters aren’t against the entire plan.

“I am entirely for a grocery story,” said downtown resident, John Thompson. “I am not for a grocery store at that location.”

“I think Des Moines needs to make a decision,” said resident, Pat Meiners, “‘Do we have an entertainment district?’ If you vote for this grocery store on Court Avenue, you’re saying ‘No.’”

Opponents say Hy-Vee would hurt parking, but Hy-Vee says its plan includes a parking structure which actually increases the total number of spaces.

Opponents worry about semi traffic on Court Avenue, but Hy-Vee shoots that down, too.

“That was one of the key things that we looked at in the design of the initial layout,” said Hy-Vee representative, Pete Hosch, “‘Where do we address that truck traffic?’ (The truck traffic is) really on 5th which is kind of the sleepy side of the development, and the plan has been vetted by the closest residents in proximity to the site.”

The city council voted to move ahead with the plan 5-1, but stressed that it’s still a long way from having shovels in the ground.  Fall of this year would be the earliest. For now, the city and the developers will begin the planning process on the look and layout of this new structure—a process they say will include input from residential and business neighbors of the property.

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