Hy-Vee may move into vacant building
The structure, which has been empty for about 15 years, on Fleur Drive could spur further developments if filled.
By JOSE DE JESUS
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
August 11, 2006
City planners hope a proposed Hy-Vee expansion project on Des Moines' south side is the catalyst that will spur continued redevelopment in that part of the city.
Hy-Vee Inc. plans to renovate the 91,000-square-foot building that once housed a Target store but has been vacant for nearly 15 years. It is directly south of a 47,000-square-foot Hy-Vee store at 4707 Fleur Drive.
"It's ultimately a commercial redevelopment of that center and it's been a long time coming," said Mike Ludwig, the city's planning administrator. "It's an urban renewal area, and we are hoping to improve commercial (development) in that corridor."
The West Des Moines-based grocer plans to add a convenience store, gas station and car wash in the parking lot west of the building, said Pamela Myhre, an economic development coordinator for the city. Adding a convenience store and gas station requires a change in city zoning for the property. A hearing for the rezoning request is on Aug. 21.
Chris Friesleben, assistant director of communications at Hy-Vee, has confirmed the store was set to be expanded on Fleur but did not provide details on the project.
Nearby residents welcomed news of the project that will reinvigorate a large commercial area.
"I think it's great news," said Gary Babberl, president of the Greater South Side Neighborhood Association. "It's been empty for a long time, and I'm in favor of something going in there."
Teresa Utterson, a south-side resident who shops at the Hy-Vee on Fleur, agreed.
"If they are going to expand, I think it's a good idea," Utterson said. "
It is unclear whether Hy-Vee will remodel its existing building or tear it down and build a new store. The Target building has been vacant since 1992, when the store moved to Southridge Mall.
The project is yet another example of the construction boom in south Des Moines, the fastest-growing part of the city with an array of residential and commercial developments gaining strength.
"The need for more development is there," Utterson said.
Some city officials and developers have said that affordability and land availability has turned the south side into a target for major development projects such as Hy-Vee's.
"There's growth occurring all over the city," Ludwig said. "Obviously, there's a lot of residential growth occurring on the south side, so I would assume that that's generating needs for new, expanded commercial business."
Des Moines has seen five years of booming commercial and residential development. Such growth contributed to a $23 million increase in building permit values over the last five years, according to city records.
Ludwig has said the city predicts thousands of houses and commercial developments will be constructed in east and south Des Moines within the next 20 years.