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Drive for more parking aimed to help grocery shoppers

Before you can cart it, you need to park it.

Rochester grocer  Hy-Veein the Barlow Plaza is adding parking to hopefully make filling your shopping cart easier.

When you consider that the store's staff has doubled in the past 13 years, Hy-Vee's satellite greenhouse has grown and the challenges of removing snow have increased, parking spaces have become premium real estate.

"It is pretty simple. The town has grown, and the lot hasn't," says Mike Long, who manages the grocery store off Civic Center Drive.

To add almost 180 parking spaces to the mix, Hy-Vee has purchased 45,000-square-feet of land west of the store behind the nearby Mickey's Irish Saloon. Rochester developer Don Prowprovided the land.

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That puts the new lot on the other side of the 16th Avenue Northwest spur that ends between Hy-Vee and Mickey's.

While this is not intended directly for customers, the expectation is that is will open up existing spaces in front of the store.

Long says the new lot will be used for employee parking, to house the seasonal lawn and garden areas and to pile snow.

"Customers ask me why we put the lawn and garden center out front, when they'd like to park," he says. "We try to listen to our customers. We want to leave the best parking spaces for our customers."

Has the opening of the new Barlow Events Centerby the store helped spur this?

"No. This was in the mix way before that," Long says. "We're just a growing business."

Just the growth of the store's staff has eaten up parking spaces. Hy-Vee now has about 145 employees at the Barlow location.

When the new lot will be available is unclear, since the building permit was submitted just last week.

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But since Long and his team are looking for a place to pile snow, I'd guess they'll try to get it paved before the inevitable white stuff starts to fall.

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