Work keeps moving along on WSP Hy-Vee


courtesy of City of West St. Paul A Hy-Vee is moving into the space currently held by the YMCA on Thompson Avenue and Robert Street in West St. Paul. The new retailer will have a gas station, liquor store and restaurant, as well as other expected grocery store amenities.

Work keeps moving ahead for a long-time rumor that’s coming true in West St. Paul — on Nov. 26, the West St. Paul City Council approved a series of resolutions that help move a new Hy-Vee grocery store closer to reality.

The approvals included rezoning, a site plan, a conditional use permit and plat for the development of the 68,400-square-foot grocery store at 150 E. Thompson Ave., the current site of the city’s YMCA. The council already approved a development agreement with Hy-Vee, and a final rezoning vote will happen at the Dec. 10 council meeting.

Mayor Jenny Halverson and council member Bob Pace were absent.

 

The new grocery store

Community Development Director Jim Hartshorn said the city has been working with Hy-Vee for roughly four years to find a location for a store in the city.

“I’m very happy to present this and get this far into the project,” he said.

Hartshorn said the rezoning changes the zoning from its current B6, town-center mixed use, to planned development with a shopping center underlying zone. 

The conditional use permit allows for on-sale liquor sales, off-sale liquor sales, outdoor seating, a drive-thru lane and a gas station.

The proposed store is slated to have a 5,000-square-foot sit-down restaurant/bar with outdoor seating, a 5,000-square-foot wine and spirit store, grocery/pharmacy pickup and a gas kiosk. 

Hartshorn said the project is slated to cost about $10.2 million and would mean roughly $46,000 in annual tax generation for the city. The store would also create approximately 30, new full-time jobs.

 

Liquor in a grocery store?

Council member Dick Vitelli asked for clarification about what the drive-thru will be used for — it’s located near the liquor store. Hartshorn assured him it’ll be for picking up groceries.

A resident also raised concerns about there being a bar in a grocery store.

Hy-Vee’s Director of Real Estate, Phil Hoey, said Hy-Vee is “not a bar fraternizing as a grocery store.” The restaurant will be full-service and serve wine and spirits, and diners will be confined to the space.

“You aren’t grabbing a glass of wine and strolling around and picking out your shrimp or your cheese or meat of the evening,” said Hoey. “It’s not designed that way — it’s not allowed by state statute to be designed that way.”

The liquor store will also be in its own space.

 

Traffic on Thompson

Several residents raised concerns about the potential for an increase in traffic on Thompson Avenue. They also wondered if more access points to the grocery store property would be added, and if the county would be looking at installing medians on the surrounding streets.

Council member John Bellows said the traffic issues brought up are ones that have been discussed with Dakota County. However, they are things the city can’t resolve by itself. He added Hy-Vee has been involved in trying to work on concerns as well. 

“If people don’t feel safe going in and out of that property, they’re not going to shop there. That pretty much destroys the concept of putting $10 million into this development,” he said.

Hoey said the number of access points on Thompson Avenue is not being increased. He said there will be a bigger conversation on whether a median will be put in on the avenue.

Hoey said Hy-Vee met with the city and county to design a traffic study to see which intersections needed to be looked at in order to make sure the redevelopment won’t overload any one intersection. The study showed streets should continue to function at a reasonable level.

 

–Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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