No subsidy, but Planeview grocery's on

06/01/2011 12:00 AM

06/01/2011 12:07 AM

A grocery store project in Planeview that was killed last fall after a political dispute over tax subsidies is going ahead anyway — without tax support.

Ron Rhodes, president of BR&D of Pittsburg said Tuesday that he plans to build a 20,000-square-foot Save-A-Lot at Pawnee and George Washington Boulevard.

The groundbreaking is set for June 8 and the grand opening for Nov. 1. The store will cost about $2.75 million for the land and building, Rhodes said. It will create 30 full- and part-time jobs.

Rhodes also owns the 5-year-old Save-A-Lot store at 13th and Grove. Save-A-Lots are franchises that feature smaller stores and value-priced food staples.

The Planeview project originally was proposed last August by developer and landlord Rob Snyder. Rhodes had agreed to lease the building.

Snyder said he needed a tax subsidy to make the project affordable. He sought permission from Wichita City Council and the Sedgwick County Commission to keep nearly $900,000 of sales tax and property tax generated over two decades by the store.

The boards ultimately rejected the financing, despite support from some officials. Snyder angrily declared the project dead.

But even after the defeat, Rhodes said he and his family continued to listen to pleas from the community for the need for a store. They re-examined the numbers and liked what they saw.

The Rhodes family bought the land from Snyder and is committed to a store that is 25 percent larger than the original proposal.

They also plan to build an additional 4,000 square feet into the building for leasing.

"We feel really good about it," Rhodes said. "We will not be seeking a TIF or a CID (tax subsidies). We think that following the positive feedback that this project will stand on its own without the CID."

GLMV Architecture is designing the building. Crossland Construction is the contractor.

And this won't be last Save-A-Lot in Wichita, either, Rhodes said.

There is a real niche for small, value-priced grocery stores in some neighborhoods of Wichita and surrounding areas, he said.

"It took us five years to build the second store," he said. "Maybe our third store would come much quicker."

Ron and Barbara Rhodes own two non-discount grocery stores, in Pittsburg and Branson, Mo., in addition to the franchised Save-A-Lot store in Wichita.

The new Wichita store will be managed by their son, Tim Rhodes, as general manager, and James Schwarz, who also manages the 13th Street store.

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