Hy-Vee will close stores in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Davenport, creating food deserts

Hy-Vee on Logan Avenue in Waterloo

A photo of the Hy-Vee on Logan Avenue in north Waterloo on May 10, 2024. Hy-Vee announced it would permanently close the store on June 23, 2024, which would have the effect of creating a food desert in north Waterloo. (Amie Rivers/Iowa Starting Line)

By Amie Rivers

May 10, 2024

Midwest grocery chain Hy-Vee is closing three stores in low-income neighborhoods, which will have the effect of creating three new food deserts in Iowa.

Hy-Vee announced this week it would be permanently closing three stores— a northeast Cedar Rapids store on First Avenue NE, a north Waterloo store on Logan Avenue, and a west Davenport store on Rockingham Road—on June 23. A spokesperson cited the stores not meeting financial expectations as the reason for their closures.

Cedar Rapids and Waterloo closures were announced Thursday. Davenport’s closure was announced Friday.

In both cases, that means those neighborhoods will soon be the newest “food deserts,” or places with large low-income populations and minimal access to transportation that are more than one mile from a large grocery store or supermarket:

  • In Waterloo, the next closest grocery store is All In Grocers on Franklin Avenue, a 2-mile drive, or a 37-minute bus ride.
  • In Cedar Rapids, the next closest one is 2 miles away, but a bus ride of an hour.
  • In Davenport, the next closest grocery store is the Hy-Vee on West Locust Street, a 2.2-mile drive or a bus ride of more than an hour.

Read: Hy-Vee Appears To Near 700 Job Cuts After Latest Round Of Layoffs

Waterloo impact

The Hy-Vee on Logan Avenue in Waterloo opened in 1969 and had a “tremendous amount of history” in the area, according to Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart. The store was rebuilt on the other side of Logan—also US Hwy. 63—in 2004.

Hy-Vee was given nearly six acres of land from the nearby hospital for its rebuild. It was unclear what other incentives were offered from the city.

Hart said he was surprised and “disappointed” to learn about the closure when the general public was informed, noting he immediately, “asked to speak with upper-level management to see if there was anything that could be done.”

“We will continue to reach out to the company’s corporate office to address the closing, while making sure we look for new opportunities,” Hart added.

The Logan Avenue store employs 95—33 full-time and 62 part-time—and employees will be offered positions in the Crossroads, Ansborough Avenue, or University Avenue locations with the same pay rate and benefits, according to The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

Read: Here’s Which Politicians Hy-Vee Has Donated To Lately

Cedar Rapids impact

Hy-Vee opened its First Ave. NE store in Cedar Rapids in 2002 receiving nearly $1 million in incentives to do so, according to The Gazette.

“This store was built on the back of taxpayer support, and its closure betrays the community’s trust and investment,” said State Rep. Sami Scheetz, a Democrat who represents Cedar Rapids. “Our community has supported Hy-Vee with a 20-year tax increment financing deal aimed at keeping a grocery store in this location. It’s disheartening to see that while our local dollars helped Hy-Vee grow, our own citizens are left with diminishing services.”

Hy-Vee told the city it had just negotiated a five-year lease extension in Cedar Rapids, City Councilman Dale Todd told KCRG, noting he was “shocked” at the turn of events.

“Our biggest disappointment was that there was no opportunity to develop a plan in partnership with them,” Todd said.

His concerns were echoed by Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell, who called the announcement “incredibly disappointing.”

“It is unfortunate the company is leaving at a time when the nearby neighborhoods are seeing significant improvements and public investment,” O’Donnell said.

Other elected officials piled on the outrage:

Read: 12 Foods to Put on Your Iowa Foodie Bucket List This Summer

  • Amie Rivers

    Amie Rivers is Starting Line's community editor, labor reporter and newsletter snarker-in-chief. Previously, she was an award-winning journalist at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier; now, she very much enjoys making TikToks and memes. Send all story tips and pet photos to [email protected] and sign up for our newsletter here.

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