Skeptical voices on Hy-Vee; some supporters

A variety of questions and statements — many expressed with skepticism — targeted the Hy-Vee, Inc. supermarket chain’s proposed location in Farragut on roughly 68 acres fronting Kingston Pike, just west of the Pike’s intersection with Campbell Station Road.

“We have 10 grocery stores within a 1.3-mile radius of my house, most of which I can walk to,” said one resident, among roughly 70 attending a community meeting with Hy-Vee officials in Town of Farragut Community Center Thursday evening, June 16, which heavily included residents from subdivisions near the proposed site of this Des Moines, Iowa-based chain.

“... We may need more walking parks; make it a recreational area,” she added. “This is the last open area, grassland (potential) park, that has not been demolished by (Town of) Farragut.”

As for anticipated increased vehicular traffic, another resident said, “It is very difficult to get in and out of the existing businesses and the subdivisions as it is now,” as residents attended from subdivisions near the proposed location, including Glen Abbey, Shiloh, Belleaire, Farragut Crossing, Village Green and Park Place.

Issues also were raised concerning the ability to hire employees, wages — and one resident saying, “you have a 1.48 out of 5 rating on the Better Business Bureau” website.

Pro Hy-Vee comments

While officials answered a few questions asked without either skepticism or support of the supermarket chain, one resident — saying she was a third generation Hy-Vee customer while living in Iowa and Minneapolis — spoke in favor of the proposed Farragut location on property owned by former Town Mayor Eddy Ford, which would be one of the first Hy-Vee supermarkets in the Southeastern United States.

“I grew up shopping at my grandparents’ Hy-Vee in Iowa, and I’m kind of excited about this,” the supporter added. “... I think there’s a lot of positive things Hy-Vee would bring to our community. ...”

A husband-wife couple, who did not speak publically, also said they were in favor of Hy-Vee coming to Farragut based on being customers while living in Minneapolis.

Their opinion was expressed during an “open-house” portion of the event, where roughly four to six residents would speak with a Hy-Vee official at three “stations” set up with site plan maps of the Farragut site and enlarged store photos.

Basic information

In reference to communication with Town of Farragut officials, Hy-Vee director of Site Planning John Brehm said “They asked us to come talk to the community first because the site, as we’ve learned over the last few months while we’ve been looking at it, has had some issues in the past.”

While Hy-Vee is planning to use just more than the 20 acres fronting Kingston Pike for its 156,000-square-foot store/parking/fuel station, etc., “We’re looking at the entire property as a whole,” Brehm said, while the back 40-plus acres would be leased.

“The middle (property is zoned for) kind of an office use, and the back will be a residential use; kind of a mixed-density use,” Brehm said.

“... And we also understand that there’s an overlay district on it to make it a town center-type of space,” he added.

Concerning the proposed supermarket’s one access point from Kingston Pike, it is planned to be across from Jamestowne Boulevard, Brehm said. “Jamestowne Boulevard would become a signalized access point” intersection.

“There’s quite a bit of space between the residential areas and municipal areas to the north and our (proposed) store — there’s a lot of greenspace,” said Phil Hoey, Hy-Vee group vice president, Acquisitions/Real Estate. “... What we try to do is match up densities with continuing neighborhoods.”

However, “This has to be re-zoned to do any of this,” Brehm said. “That’s why we’re talking to you first, because this is a big change from what it was planned originally.”

Products, procedures

Separating Hy-Vee from other town grocers, “We’re employee-owned and we’re community based,” Brehm said, adding the company “has been able to get ahead of almost all of our supply issues; we have our own distribution centers.”

As for getting fresh food, “We can work with local farmers and bring their products into our produce section,” he said.