LEAWOOD, Kan. -- More than 100 people showed up at a Leawood City Council meeting Monday night, hoping it might help keep a Hy-Vee grocery store at 122nd and State Line open. But during the first meeting between Hy-Vee and the city council, the grocer had other things in mind.
The scene was set for negotiations. Hy-Vee executives, city council and Leawood Plaza's property owner were all at the table. Most residents expected to hear various options that would keep the Hy-Vee open.
But, Hy-Vee made it clear:
“Our comments to the city that we would entertain and come discuss our project with them, really our project on file at this point in time is really at 135th and Roe,” said Peter Hosch, Hy-Vee’s Assistant Vice President of Store Development.
Referring to a new, bigger store the company would rather build elsewhere. The shift in focus caught Mayor Peggy Dunn and some residents off guard.
“I was a little surprised how much they`re just focusing on the 135th street and Roe site,” Mayor Dunn said.
“Hy-Vee is in my mind, is the villain in this thing because they really misled the public that it could ever happen that they could be saved,” said Hy-Vee customer Julie Fountain.
Hy-Vee executives say over the past year, their vision has changed. Now, they don't think the current location can accommodate their growing needs, like more parking spaces. The executives said it would take a full redevelopment of the shopping center to change their mind, and even that seems too risky.
Still, Mayor Dunn isn`t giving up hope.
“I’m hoping that maybe they’ll figure out a way to work with the shopping center owner to gain some acreage to do what they need to do, because the current location is still the best location for them,” she said.
One thing everyone could agree on Monday night was the need to redevelop the Leawood Plaza Shopping Center. The timeline and financing of that project are unclear right now, but city council seems ready and willing to figure it out.