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BLOOMINGTON — A Hy-Vee grocery store could open by late 2014 at the former K’s Merchandise building with as many as 600 employees, a full-service restaurant and several specialty departments.

Company spokeswoman Ruth Comer said the 10- to 12-month building redevelopment could start early next year if the City of Bloomington approves site plans.

The city’s review should be finished and comments forwarded to Hy-Vee within a week, said Bloomington economic development coordinator Justine Robinson. “We look forward to working with Hy-Vee with hopes of revitalizing the Lakewood shopping center,” she said.

The employee-owned, Iowa-based chain would bring in a management team from existing stores but hire up to 600 other employees. About 30 percent of those jobs would be full-time with benefits, Comer said. The remainder would be part-time employees.

“We typically use a large number of high school and college students,” she said, noting their schedules work well with the 24-hour store.

The store would use about 95,000 square feet of the former K’s building, 1407 N. Veterans Parkway, with storage planned for the rest of 108,554-square-foot space.

Newer Hy-Vee stores feature a restaurant called Market Grille, which offers a breakfast bar, lunchtime soup and salad bar and full-table service at night. Food service departments also offer pizza or fresh sushi.

The Bloomington store would have between three and seven professional chefs on staff, Comer said. Also planned are a large fresh seafood department; a bakery with artisan breads, custom cakes and desserts; a specialty cheese shop with more than 200 varieties; natural and organic products; foods for special diets; a floral department; and pharmacy.

Depending on local laws, Comer said, some stores also have a wine and spirits store with a separate entrance. “We have a large selection of crafts beers, a tasting room and wines from all over the world,” she said, and the tasting room can be reserved for a private party.

“We try to emphasize quality, variety, convenience and service,” Comer said. “Those are the four pillars on which we build our stores.”

Hy-Vee customers can earn points on a fuel savings card by purchasing specially marked products. The points may be redeemed at participating stations, she said.

Hy-Vee has 234 stores in eight Midwest states and employees 68,000 people. It posted $8 billion in sales last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

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