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Hickman Mills neighborhood secures Price Chopper

School district to benefit from deal
Price Chopper Hickman Mills
Posted at 5:41 PM, Sep 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-07 18:50:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Price Chopper will soon move into the old Kmart building on Bannister and Hillcrest roads.

"We're very fortunate they're moving in closer to our neighborhood rather than leaving the area," Bill Ross said with the Fairlane Homeowners Association.

The project will cost $24.3 million, with $15 million financed through a tax-increment financing, community-improvement district sales tax revenue and a Super TIF.

The Price Chopper on Blue Ridge Boulevard will close, and the developer, Sunflower Development Group, and the grocer agreed to move locations. If Price Chopper chose to shut down and not relocate to the Hickman Mills neighborhood, the area would be considered a food desert. The other food options within a 5-mile radius are Save-A-Lot and Aldi.

A storage facility currently is housed in part of the building. The HOA is in favor of the project, as neighbors have complained of people doing donuts and peeling out in the space's parking lot.

The building will be demolished and rebuilt and will operate as a full-service grocery store. Price Chopper will share the building with the current storage facility. A couple fast-food restaurants also will be part of the project.

JLL Valuation and Advisory Services, a real estate consultant out of Chicago, named the old Kmart site a blighted area that constitutes an economic liability to the safety of the community.

"We've lost all our businesses around here," Ross, of the HOA, said. "Well, not all but a big majority, but it's good to see some of them come back."

The Hickman Mills School District also had a hand in working out this deal.

"This is a direct impact to our community," Superintendent Yaw Obeng said. "This is about food and nutrition."

A misunderstanding arose at the Aug. 26 Kansas City Neighborhood Planning and Development Committee meeting, where Hickman Mills Board of Education member DaRon McGee asked for a two-week pause on the project.

The school district initially was set to receive a $75,000 charitable donation, but McGee argued the district's children deserved more.

"We think that for a deal where we lose over $2.8 million over the course of this TIF, to offer us $75,000 paid over seven years is really an insult to the students and to the black and brown children we represent and we are the fiduciary responsibility to," McGee told the committee.

However, the rest of the school board said they were not aware McGee was going to the meeting because he told them the committee planned to put a temporary hold on the project.

Councilman Lee Barnes, also committee chair, said he never told anyone that he would hold the project.

Chris Vukas, of the Sunflower Development Group, told the committee he already had received a memorandum of understanding from the school district. The developers wanted to quickly advance the project because the New Market Tax Credits would expire Sept. 15.

The school board later criticized McGee's actions at a special board session, saying he jeopardized the project.

After negotiations, the Sunflower Development Group agreed to donate up to $125,000 for student programming and scholarships.

"They've also committed to hiring at least 20 of our students working part time and for summer jobs, which is going to be a great opportunity for our kids," Obeng said.

After the project hits 7.7% in profits, 30% of that will be shared with the district.

"We're in the process of working with other builders who are seeing Hickman Mills is a good place for investment, so there's an upswing coming," Obeng said. "I hope it builds the kind of momentum we need in terms of contributing to the community and having a direct impact on our district on how well students perform."

Developers hope the project will be finished by late 2021.