WATERLOO — Developers are planning a new grocery store in the Walnut Neighborhood near the downtown business district.
Central Holdings LLC, a partnership including Rodney Anderson and Dan Levi, has proposed building the 26,077-square-foot supermarket near the CVS pharmacy at U.S. Highway 63 and Franklin Street.
A zoning change and site plan for the project are slated for public hearings before the Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission Tuesday. A development agreement with an estimated $950,000 city incentive package and tax breaks is scheduled for an Aug. 7 City Council vote.
Levi said the Franklin Street Supermarket will be an independent store with a focus on the community.
“We are interested in a community center that happens to sell food,” he said. “It will be owned by locals, operated by locals and employ locals.”
Levi credited Anderson with taking the time to research what it takes to develop in the heart of the city. The two traveled to Philadelphia and met with UpLift Solutions, a nonprofit organization that has helped similar projects be successful.
The store is expected to include a community room and a family-style restaurant, employee 60 to 80 people and have an annual payroll of $8 million to $10 million, Levi said. The business intends to provide employment chances to ex-felons and person with disabilities.
Levi praised the city with pushing for the development and stepping up with incentives to make it feasible, noting the project could not happen without the assistance.
“This grocery store is an answer to numerous requests from neighbors and citizens who have expressed a desire for a grocery store nearer their homes and work places,” said Mayor Quentin Hart. “The jobs it will bring are a plus for Waterloo.”
Former City Councilman Willie Mae Wright, who lives near the site, called the pending supermarket the latest stroke of good fortune for the Walnut Neighborhood.
“Everybody’s really excited about it,” she said. “We want it.”
The neighbors also have seen a strip mall, including a Harold’s Chicken restaurant, and a hardware store open in the past year. The city recently inked a deal with JSA Development to renovate four historic houses as part of an overall housing push in the Walnut Neighborhood.
Community Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson said the Walnut Neighborhood Association has listed a grocery store among its greatest needs, and the city previously sought federal grants based on the area’s designation as a “food desert.”
“I think the site serves the area nicely to be on both Highway 63 and Franklin because of the traffic,” Anderson said. “But it could also help serve the downtown residential (development) in that location.”
The city has been seeking a developer for the location since CVS purchased and demolished the former Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in 2012 to make way for the new pharmacy.
The property was shown to quite a few grocery store chains before Rodney Anderson, who previously developed a nearby strip mall housing Earth’s Beauty Supply and Harold’s Chicken, stepped forward.
Central Holdings LLC would be buying the bulk of the property from CVS for roughly $750,000.
The city would provide a $400,000 grant and 10 years of 80 percent property tax rebates to cover the acquisition, Noel Anderson said.
The city is negotiating with House of Hope to buy the women’s and children’s shelter at 222 Walnut Street and an adjacent parking lot owned by Dave Larsen, who owns the nearby Walnut Court apartments.
The development agreement anticipates the city will demolish the House of Hope building and deed the land to the grocery store project. Should the buyout fail, the store would need to be scaled down to 18,000 square feet.
House of Hope acquired an office building at 845 W. Fourth St. two years ago, announcing at the time the building would be renovated into a new women’s and children’s shelter.