By a unanimous vote, the Commission of the Wyandotte Unified Government took a giant step forward on bringing a grocery store to downtown KCK. The Commission approved a management agreement with The Merc Coop to manage/operate a new store to be constructed at 5th Street and Minnesota. A possible opening date for the store is fall 2019.

The Merc, currently has one grocery location, in Lawrence, KS, but operates a small restaurant/convenience store in the Lawrence Library.

Under the agreement, the UG will build and own the 12,000 to 14,000 sq. ft., $6 million building in the current parking lot to the south of the Reardon Convention Center. Funding sources will include $4.2 million from the hotel revenue fund generated from the sale of the Hilton Gardens, plus sales tax and property tax increment financing at $1.6 million.

Estimated construction costs of the grocery store building are $2.76 million, with furniture, fixtures and equipment at $1.5 million, professional services at $500,000 and project contingency funds at $500,000. With expected total cost estimated at $4.2 million. Additional funds for the construction will come from sales tax and property tax increment financing at $1.6 million.

The $6 million downtown grocery store will be a 12,000 to 14,000-square-foot building in a current parking lot to the south of the Reardon Convention Center, and to the west of the former EPA building that will become a University of Kansas Health Systems facility, said Jon Stephens, UG economic development director. There may be additional small retail spaces at the site.

To help seal the deal, the management agreement with The Merc includes a $540,000 stabilization fund to be in place during the first three years of the agreement. The funds will only kick in if the store falls below set minimum expectations levels.

Mayor David Alvey sees the project as a key to the revitalization efforts of downtown KCK.

“I’m confident that that location, its accessibility to downtown Kansas City, Missouri, and to other parts of the metro area, is going to bring in not just our residents, but folks from outside,” said the Mayor.  “It is already engendering great interest in the downtown area, as did the announcement by KU to locate there. A lot of really good things happening there, and this is really going to take off.”

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