DES MOINES, Iowa - Plans for a downtown Hy-Vee grocery store along Court Avenue are in their final stages, though the timeline for construction and opening have shifted slightly.
Company officials said they hope to begin construction at 420 Court Avenue in August, with doors opening in November 2016, after a project review meeting at City Hall Tuesday. At the tail-end of 2014, officials were hoping to finalize plans quickly enough to break ground this spring and see the store open in spring 2016.
The Urban Design Review Board, which gives city officials a recommendation on architecture and financing of projects that receive subsidies from the city, voted 4-3 to approve the project, but only if Hy-Vee will continue to work with city staff to address requests for smaller signage and more street trees. Several concerns were also raised on the loading dock bordering Fifth Avenue, as well as how the store's modern architecture will look juxtaposed to the rest of Court Avenue's historic buildings. Knapp Properties President and CEO, Gerry Neugent, says having a loading dock is crucial to keep traffic light around the store.
"The alternative of not having a loading dock means you have to do it on the street, and early on one of the things we worked with the city and Court Avenue businesses on was keeping those loading trucks off the street," he said.
Aimee Staudt, Vice President and Director of Development for Knapp Properties, says Hy-Vee having its own distribution will help keep the loading dock from interfering with the pedestrian experience downtown, as well.
"Most of the bars up and down Court, the trucks will park and block traffic. That would be a worse alternative," she said. "Hy-Vee controls their own distribution, so they'll be able to control what hours those trucks are there. And Fourth Street has a lot of residential, so it doesn't make sense to move it over to that side."
Staudt says Knapp will continue to work with city staff on ways to better screen the loading dock, as well as how to possibly add more street trees and reduce the size of the Hy-Vee sign in the months leading up to construction in August.
Hy-Vee is working with Knapp Properties and OPN Architects on the $30 million project, set to be located on what is now a city-owned parking lot. The mixed-use building will feature a 35,000-square-foot grocery store on the main level, complete with a Hy-Vee Market Grille restaurant, laundry service, and a coffee shop (tentatively expected to be a Starbucks). The upper floors will serve as 82 market-rate apartments, and a 210-stall parking garage is located behind the building.