BLOOMINGTON — Hy-Vee, a Midwestern grocery store chain, has an option to purchase the long-vacant K’s Merchandise site at Lakewood Plaza for a new store.
“We have gone to Bloomington with plans to build a Hy-Vee at the former Walmart site,” Hy-Vee spokeswoman Ruth Comer said Thursday. “We’re working with the city on what’s required for approval.”
The 108,554-square-foot site has been vacant since K’s Merchandise closed in 2007. Walmart was the site’s first tenant, opening in 1987. K’s Merchandise moved to the location after Walmart built a new store in Normal in 1997.
Comer said the option is contingent on city approval of the plans.
“We’re at the beginning stage,” she said.
The company is doing a building inspection and is in phase one of an environmental study.
Bloomington Economic Development Coordinator Justine Robinson said the city began conversations with the company last month while she and City Manager David Hales were at a retail conference in Las Vegas. Since then representatives have met with the city to review preliminary site plans.
She said the Iowa-based company has not yet submitted any formal applications but the city is “thrilled to see that a nationally recognized retailer is looking at this location.”
“The revitalization of Lakewood Plaza hinges on a tenant entering the Ks Merchandise building,” she said. She said the large retailer would help boost the shopping center, which also added a Binny’s Beverage Depot last fall, and “could have a significant impact on the sales tax revenue for the city of Bloomington.”
Robinson said she sent an incentive application packet to the company but the city has not received any requests for specific incentives.
“There’s still environmental and other due diligence phases that have to be completed before this deal is done,” she said, adding that she’s working to answer any questions the company may have to ensure a “seamless” process.
“The city is thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to engage in conversations with Hy-Vee and we look forward to assisting them during their investigation,” Robinson said.
Comer said the company likes to build in the “most sustainable way” and could use some of the existing building.
Hy-Vee is working on a Springfield location at a former Kmart site, she said. The company tore down the outside walls of that building but is using all the steel.
A Hy-Vee store opened at Sheridan Village in Peoria about three years ago and the Peoria City Council has approved a second store at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie.
Comer said if all the approvals are given for the Bloomington site, work could start late this year. Construction typically takes 10 to 12 months, depending on weather and construction factors, she said. Hy-Vee stores are employee-owned.