Archive for Wednesday, July 22, 2009

De Soto council member sees example in Basehor success

A new grocery store opened in Basehor last week through the help of incentives offered by the city. Basehor faced the same challenges De Soto does in recruiting a new store

A new grocery store opened in Basehor last week through the help of incentives offered by the city. Basehor faced the same challenges De Soto does in recruiting a new store

July 22, 2009

As De Soto nears the second anniversary of the closing the community’s only grocery store, a 40,000-square-foot, nine-department store opened Friday in Basehor.

Basehor’s success in attracting a grocery store has the attention of De Soto City Councilman Ron McDaniel, who said he talked with the Basehor mayor about the incentives offered to attract the store.

Basehor was without a grocery store since a fire destroyed its old store about a decade ago, said Chris Garcia, who was mayor of Basehor from 2005 to 2009.

Much like De Soto, Basehor is a bedroom community with most resident traveling to work, and often shopping, elsewhere. Also like De Soto, it faced the challenge of large established stores in nearby communities.

Basehor officials, too, heard larger grocery chain officials cite numbers suggesting there wouldn’t be a store in the community for years, What made the difference was a partnership with a local developer who wanted to bring the city a grocery store, Garcia said.

The city’s involvement in the project, included:

• Creation a transportation taxing district that allowed the city to charge a 3/4-cent sales tax, which would be dedicated to paying off infrastructure improvements in the new shopping center. The district includes the grocery store and a shopping center with room for 12 to 15 more commercial sites.

• Deeding the store’s developer some of the right-of-way needed for access to the center.

• Agreeing to return sales tax to the developer if the grocery store is unable to meet obligations during the first three years after opening. If the revenue isn’t needed in the first year, the rebate sunsets.

• Waived excise tax, sewer development and water development fees and permit fees.

Garcia said he was convinced the project would work because of the example of the local Caseys Store. It moved from an old location downtown to U.S. 24/40 and more than tripled the sales tax it contributed to the city.

It wasn’t an easy or quick process. Garcia said it took four to five years to get everything in place, partially because of the election of new council members and the feeling of some in the community the city was giving away too much.

“I backed this 150 percent,” he said. “What we did, we gave a local business owner some help.”

McDaniel said he has meet with a number of people in the grocery business in the past few months. He would bring what he learned from that experience to the council soon, he said.

Meanwhile, De Soto City Councilman Rick Walker shared with his fellow council members a guide to starting a grocery cooperative. During his campaign for the council last spring, Walker proposed a cooperative as a way to bring a grocery store to the community.

Open cooperatives cited in the guide were founded by a group of investors but open to all consumers. Walker said the more successful cooperatives hired professionals to run the operations.

Walker said he would ask that discussion of a cooperative be placed on the agenda of a coming council meeting or bring it up during council comments. Another initial step would be to schedule a meeting to gauge the interest in starting a cooperative.

Other topics to be discussed at the meeting is how much capital would needed to start the cooperative and space needs, Walker said.

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