Neighbors voice concerns over proposed convenience store addition to Johnson Ave Hy-Vee in Cedar Rapids

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 4:56 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Hy-Vee is asking neighbors in northwest Cedar Rapids for feedback on a proposal to add a convenience store and Aisles Online accessory building to the Hy-Vee at 1843 Johnson Ave.

Brandi Benda moved to 18th Street NW, Cedar Rapids in 2008. This is a battle she’s fought before, saying, “We don’t need a gas station here. What we do need are homes, for families.”

“In 2018 Hy-Vee wanted to tear down these three houses to build a gas station,” Benda said, “The city council unanimously voted it down the last time.”

Benda said she got a letter from Hy-Vee a few weeks ago about a virtual neighborhood meeting to talk about a proposal to add a Fast & Fresh convenience store and Aisles Online accessory building to the Johnson Avenue Hy-Vee, right across from her home.

She said she filed a records request with the city of Cedar Rapids, specifically the zoning department, to figure out what the plans could look like ahead of the meeting.

”We got access to the plans ourselves, and it does encompass tearing down all these homes and building a gas station with 14 pumps,” Benda said.

Benda said she and other neighbors are worried about increased traffic, lights, and noise. But some people who live down the street do see a bright side to the potential plans.

Jacob Loomis and his fiancé have lived on 18th St NW for a little over a year.

”We thought it would probably bring some more traffic onto the road here, but given the opportunity to have something in our neighborhood that would give us that convenience, I think the pros and cons evened out,” Loomis said.

Hy-Vee declined to comment, specifically, on any preliminary plans for the Johnson Avenue location.

It also declined to confirm the development concept that Benda received.

Christina Gayman, a spokesperson for Hy-Vee, talked with KCRG-TV9 about Hy-Vee’s Aisles Online program, and what the company has seen generally over the last year. Gayman said Hy-Vee saw a 300 percent increase in customers asking for delivery and pickup at the beginning of the pandemic, as well as increased demand for the Aisles Online program across all its markets.

”The most growth we’ve seen over the last 18 months from an employee workforce component has been from our Aisles Online team,” Gayman said.

While she said that interest has leveled off a bit in recent months, it still remains high.

The letter neighbors got about a virtual meeting said “This will be an opportunity for you to see our concept plans, ask questions, raise concerns, and provide input to the project before we submit an application to the City for rezoning.”

But Benda said she already knows where she stands.

“This is our first home we bought, and we’ve decided it could be the last home we ever buy,” she said. “So every time Hy-Vee comes around to try to do this, we’re gonna be here. Fighting.”

According to the letter, the neighborhood meeting will be over Zoom on Wednesday, October 13th.

The letter said Hy-Vee staff will share a presentation and concept plans for the proposal at that meeting.

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