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The Leawood, Kan. Hy-Vee will close June 1 after being forced out of the up-scale community. The closure comes at a time when many communities would welcome business.

Leawood Hy-Vee Feels Forced Out of Community

Kharissa Forte |

On June 1, after 25-years of service, the helpful smiles found in every aisle will disappear from the Leawood area as Hy-Vee on 122nd and State Line will close its doors for good.
“We are in need of updating the facilities so we can provide new services for our customers,” said store director John Weaver.
Several years ago the store attempted to extensively remodel, however those plans were hampered by the city. Instead of fighting city hall Hy-Vee submitted a new proposal on April 3 to relocate and build a new Hy-Vee on 135th and Roe.
Leawood City Administrator Scott Lambers was quoted saying that the city is not interested in a large development with a “sea of parking.”
Councilman James Azeltine later said the city was in favor of a Trader Joe’s styled grocery store. Azeltine’s comments come at a time when cities are increasingly using their weight to favor one business over another.
The politics of the city were made very clear when a moratorium was enacted last week that placed a hold on all new developments along 135th Street.
“We feel that the moratorium was directed to us because we filed our plans the day before,” said Hy-Vee vice president of communications Chris Friesleban. “That may not be their intentions, but it’s certainly how it feels.”
Friesleben said that the decision to close the story was very difficult as they connect with their shoppers, but says that they simply cannot succeed at that location.
Competitive stores in the area such as Wal-mart and Price Chopper have nothing to do with the store’s success, rather being able to present a shopping environment that fits today’s lifestyle is the goal — and it’s a goal that can no longer be achieved at the Leawood location.
“We can best serve our shoppers in an environment that gives us the square footage to provide all of the services, all of the products and all of the amenities our shoppers need,” Friesleben said.
The more modern locations are at the Olathe (14955 W 151st Street), Overland Park (8501 W. 95th Street) and Kansas City (5330 NW 64th Street) stores among others. The up-to-date services that Hy-Vee offers at the newer stores include larger health markets, dine-in restaurants, full-service bars and coffee shops such as Starbucks or Caribou Coffee.
The team members at the employee-owned establishment are in the process of being placed at different Hy-Vee locations.
“All of our employees have been offered jobs at other Hy-Vee’s close to where they may live at the same wage and same or similar hours,” Weaver said.
Still, the news comes as a shock to loyal shoppers who have supported the store for the past two decades. Some have gone as far as to contact city council concerning the matter.
“City council is stepping back and kind of seeing what their residents want in terms of building along 135th Street,” Weaver said. “If our customers let them know that a new, bigger Hy-Vee is what they want, then maybe it can shift their viewpoint.”