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Plans for fourth Hy-Vee store shaping up

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With an extension of 41st Street from West Circle Drive, ground is being broken for a HyVee grocery store.

After putting the project on the back burner for a few months, Hy-Vee is moving ahead with plans to build a fourth Rochester store.

The Iowa-based grocery chain filed an updated site plan with the city on Sept. 17 for a 90,000-square-foot store at 4200 West Circle Drive N.W. in the Northern Hills Commercial Park development.

Tara Deering-Hansen, Hy-Vee's director of corporate communications, estimates that the store will add about 600 jobs to the company's Rochester payroll. The development cost was previously estimated at between $15 million to $17 million. Deering-Hansen said that a construction timeline for the new store isn't yet available.

However, more construction vehicles were seen working this week on the site of the Northern Hills Commercial Park. Earlier this year, Hy-Vee representatives said that work could start with the company's 2015 fiscal year in October. It takes about 10 months to build a store, so it could possibly open in late summer or early fall of 2015, they said.

This project has been in the works for about four years. Hy-Vee originally proposed it back in October 2011 after it purchased the property just south of the Northern Hills Golf Course for $3.19 million.

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Since that purchase, grocery store competition has heated up in northwest Rochester. Costco and Kwik Trip have opened in that area. Aldi also recently announced its own plans to build its second Rochester grocery store near Costco at the corner of 22nd Street Northwest and Commerce Drive.

Matt Lilla, Aldi's vice president of the Faribault division and a Rochester native, estimates the new north store could open by April 2015.

Previously asked about Hy-Vee planning a store so near where Aldi will build, Lilla said the competition would boost business in northwest Rochester.

"Having Hy-Vee there will be a big traffic draw for the area, which is good for everybody," he said. "Rochester's a booming city. It's a huge market that draws people from all over southern Minnesota."

In the years since Hy-Vee first began talking about a fourth Rochester store, it has been active with many other projects. It recently upgraded the restaurants in its three Rochester stores to fit its full sit-down model called Market Café.

The Hy-Vee store on 37th Street Northwest is also undergoing a major renovation to add a new pharmacy, customer service counter and floral area. The exterior is getting a major facelift and the parking lot is being repaired as well as expanded.

It looks like construction of what will be the largest of Hy-Vee's local stores is now edging nearer to the starting line. By comparison, the Hy-Vee in the Barlow Plaza shopping center is 78,000 square feet, the store near Crossroads Shopping Center is 70,000, and the 37th Street store is about 60,000.

Plans for the new store include a different restaurant format called Market Grille, a full-service restaurant and bar model — which Hy-Vee is using in all of its new stores — but with a more elaborate kitchen and larger menu.

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Deering-Hansen said this store will feature a pharmacy with drive-up windows, a floral shop, a made-to-order sushi bar and dry cleaning and postal services. Health will continue to be a focus, with in-house dietitians and chefs, plus a large HealthMarket and bulk foods section.

It is expected to carry more than 1,400 produce items and 9,000 specialty items.

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