The renovation is on. Or at least, the demolition part of it is.
Anyone crossing through one of Janesville’s busiest retail grocery corridors—Humes Road and Lexington Drive—has seen the first signs of change at a former big-box retailer where a national grocery chain plans to open a store on the city’s retail-packed northeast side.
This week, construction contractors working for West Des Moines, Iowa, grocery chain Hy-Vee cordoned off the parking area and much of the storefront frontage of the 100,000-square-foot former Shopko at 2029 Humes Road with fencing and dark, cloth windscreens.
Crews the last few weeks have begun work around the site and inside the former Shopko at 2029 Humes Road.
A city planning official said Hy-Vee now is launching permitted demolition work at the vacant property.
Hy-Vee late last year announced the project. The grocer has worked through ordinance changes at the city of Janesville that would allow it to run a hybrid, supermarket/restaurant model that it operates in dozens of other markets throughout the Midwest.
The company has said it intends to open later this year a full-service grocery with a liquor store, fresh food court, a Wahlburgers restaurant and bar, and pharmacy.
That would bring major new competition to a retail spur that has six other grocery retailers—Woodman’s Food Market, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Target, Aldi and Festival Foods—all within about 1 square mile of territory.
City of Janesville planner Brian Schweigl, who is overseeing public permitting of the project, said Hy-Vee took ownership of the Shopko property after a sale last year.
Hy-Vee publicly disclosed its plans to build out the former Shopko at 2029 Humes Road late last year. So far, the group has gotten the city of Janesville’s OK through construction permitting to launch demolition work inside the building.
Schweigl said Hy-Vee must still get some special zoning approval for parts of the project, including plans for a drive-thru pharmacy.
He said Hy-Vee also plans a 1,100-square-foot outbuilding in the parking lot that will serve as a daytime pickup spot for customers who order groceries online
Hy-Vee officials this week didn’t respond to a Gazette reporter’s inquiries on the project, and a contractor on site said his firm is not allowed to comment on the project or ongoing work at the site.