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Year in Review: 6. SWMO grocery scene in flux

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SOUTHWEST MISSOURI, JANUARY—The year started with the promise of three new grocery stores in southwest Missouri and is ending with two on hold, three previously unannounced stores nearing completion and a four-decade-old fixture closing.

Both Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Hy-Vee Inc. had secured hard-fought Springfield City Council rezoning measures associated with their store plans against stiff opposition, but those victories have not yet resulted in development.

In November 2012, council approved Hy-Vee’s plans to rezone 10.5 wooded acres on East Sunshine Street to general retail despite pleas from 21 nearby residents. Construction of an 85,000-square-foot, $12.7 million store was slated to wrap up in the spring, but dirt has yet to move. In January, a Hy-Vee spokesperson said construction wouldn’t begin before October, but he provided no timeline or explanation for the delay beyond multiple design changes.

A proposed Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market along South Campbell Avenue and Grand Street was on hold most of the year as area residents and the Bentonville, Ark., retailer were embroiled in a zoning lawsuit. In August, an appellate court judge ruled a referendum petition seeking to block the rezoning of center city property would not head to a public vote, but the fight continued.

When the Missouri Supreme Court decided not to hear the case, Springfield attorney Jason Umbarger, who represents a group of petitioners, said petitioners were exploring options.

During the interim, Wal-Mart stayed busy. The world’s largest retailer is poised to open its fifth Neighborhood Market in Springfield at East Sunshine and Blackman Road and a Wal-Mart Express in Sparta, while another Express location began construction in Clever this November. On Oct. 22, a 70,000-square-foot, scaled-down Supercenter opened in Mount Vernon.

As one store opens, another closes. Price Cutter has penned an agreement to purchase the real estate and equipment of the four Springfield Dillons supermarkets after the chain exits the city in January. In the Ozarks since the 1970s, Dillons confirmed the closure of stores at 1707 W. Battlefield Road, 1831 W. Kearney St., 1260 St. Louis St. and 2843 E. Sunshine St. Dillons approached Price Cutter about the deal, but terms were undisclosed.

Also in the Springfield market, Wommack’s Market on North Grant Avenue is planning to shut down after 22 years in business.[[In-content Ad]]

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