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Hy-Vee East expansion underway behind the scenes

by Joe Buttweiler –

MASON CITY – A new pharmacy, wine and spirits store, club meeting room and specialty foods counters are among the many additions that will be built into Hy-Vee East over the next year or so.

Demolition of interior space just to the north of the existing store began about a month ago, making room for what will be a roughly 20,000-square-foot addition to the store. Another 5,000 will be added to the back, said Tracy Kading, store manager.

To keep the store open during construction, the expansion is being done in stages and is not expected to be complete until August of 2012, he said Thursday.

“It’ll be kind of a domino effect,” he said of the project, which has been anticipated for five years. The new main entry to the store, which will be to the north of the existing entry, should be complete by Oct. 1, along with the new Chinese and Italian food counters, kitchen, bakery and deli.

Then the produce department will move to the north, checkout lanes will be moved and other areas will be shifted.

While none of the work is visible from inside the store now, it definitely will be later in the project, Kading said, and should be interesting for customers to follow.

The wine and spirits store will be where the floral shop is currently located. The pharmacy will be just to the north of that. The club meeting room will be at the northwest corner of the new store, adjacent to the new dining area. There will be new Chinese, sushi and Italian food areas to the north of the new front door.
A drawing of the new layout for the store is located near the exit of Hy-Vee East, along with photos of many of the departments that will be added.

Overall, the store will go from about 45,000 square feet to about 69,000, Kading said.

Hy-Vee Weitz Construction, which is based in Des Moines and is 50-percent owned by Hy-Vee, is the general contractor for the project. Demolition is being handled by Slycord Construction of Mitchellville.

Kading said he expects to add about 75 employees, bringing the total from about 275 currently to about 350 when the project is complete.

Besides the economic impact of having a larger store with more employees, construction is also having a spinoff effect, he said. There have been three to five people a day working on demolition, and others working on excavation and electrical.

A temporary truck dock was set up in the parking lot behind the store, and a new back door was installed to bring stacks of products in and refuse out.

The store’s expansion to the north will re-occupy space that it used when it first opened in 1976, Kading said. It later moved to the south and the back of the original store was demolished. The store’s footprint has been as it is now since 1990, he said.

Kading said the project has been planned for five years but has hit “probably every obstacle that you could imagine.” The main one seems to be the company’s rapid expansion, he said, noting that it spends about $250 million in capital improvements a year, and that there has been a lot of focus on construction of new stores.

Customers seem very eager to see the store expand, he said, so it has more of what they want. “They want the organics. They want the health market, and especially the pharmacy – the convenience of having everything they’re looking for at one place.”

According to the company website,, the employee-owned company operates 231 retail stores in eight Midwestern states. For 2010 the company recorded total sales of $6.9 billion, ranking it among the top 25 supermarket chains and the top 50 private companies in the United States.

Utility and site-preparation work continue behind Hy-Vee East.
Interior demolition work to the north of Hy-Vee East is nearly complete.

The front entryway to Hy-Vee East will move to the north as part of the expansion project now underway.

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