Feb 7, 2024 - News

Scoop: Hy-Vee's chopped hours may violate Des Moines contract

A photo of a Hy-Vee store.

The main Court Avenue entrance at the downtown Hy-Vee has been closed for weeks, directing customers to its rear or side entrances. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Hy-Vee's abrupt cut in operating hours at its downtown Des Moines store this week potentially violates a development agreement with the city, per records obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The city government provided millions of dollars in incentives for a "full-service grocery store" — the only one downtown — when it opened in 2017.

  • Deputy city manager Matt Anderson tells Axios the store is essential for downtown's growing population.
  • Some of Hy-Vee's financial incentives are over a 15-year period.

State of play: Hy-Vee posted notes on its doors Monday announcing new daily store hours are 8am-6pm.

  • But adevelopment agreement with the city requires the downtown store be open daily from 6am-11pm — a seven-hour difference.

Zoom in: Theft and loitering have become a problem at the store with police being called there more than 200 times in the last six months, Hy-Vee spokesperson Tina Potthoff tells Axios.

  • The changes are to ensure safety of customers and employees, she says.

Plus: The number of customers served in early morning and evening hours has significantly decreased at the store since the pandemic because more people now work from home, Potthoff says.

Flashback: Hy-Vee announced plans in 2021 to convert the store into a HealthMarket but indefinitely tabled the idea after the proposal was not well received by customers and city officials.

What they're saying: The city's economic development department hadn't received a formal request to amend the contract as of yesterday.

  • The city has contacted developer Knapp Properties to initiate conversations with Hy-Vee, Anderson says.

How it works: DSM generally tries to work with businesses for an agreeable solution before issuing written notices.

  • Hy-Vee would have 45 days to take corrective actions if a notice is formally issued, city spokesperson Devin Perry tells Axios.

Of note: The city occasionally rescinds tax incentives to companies that do not follow through on economic development promises, including Wells Fargo, which recently announced it's leaving some of its DSM locations.

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