Grocery proposed in Planeview area

People in one of Wichita's poorest neighborhoods could have a new Save-A-Lot grocery store early next year.

The proposed store would be built on a vacant lot on the southeast corner of South George Washington Boulevard and East Pawnee.

But developer Rob Snyder says the Planeview grocery store hinges on City Council members approving two special tax districts on Tuesday.

One move would let the store charge an extra 2 percent sales tax on all purchases made inside the store. That would produce $476,640 over 22 years.

A second move would create a tax increment financing district. That would let Snyder use the amount of increased property taxes that result from the new development to help pay for the

project. That's expected to total $403,800 of the $2 million project.

Typically, the city gives developers the money projected to be raised by the property tax increment up front and the taxes pay off the debt year-by-year. That sometimes has left the city shortchanged.

But Snyder has secured private financing up front, so the additional property tax money would be paid back to Snyder year-by-year and help him pay off his private debt.

"The risk rests entirely with the developer," said Allen Bell, the city's director of urban development.

But it would add a 2 percent sales tax to shoppers in one of the city's lowest-income neighborhoods.

Greg Ferris, a former City Council member who is working with Snyder, said people in the neighborhood will still benefit by shorter drives and more convenient shopping.

And, he said, people who use food stamps don't pay sales tax.

"They're going to save much more than 2 percent," he said. "This is a situation where the city has everything to gain and nothing to lose."

This would be the second major project in Planeview for Snyder.

In 2004, he began selling homes in the Shadow Ridge Addition as part of a city program that designates houses for first-time homebuyers who have incomes at or below 80 percent of the city's median income.

James Arbertha, as executive director of the Power Community Development Corp., spearheaded an effort to build a Save-A-Lot at 13th and Grove that opened in 2006 as executive director of the Power Community Development Corp.

That was funded with a $750,000 federal grant and $644,000 from the city of Wichita and about $350,000 in TIF money.

Arbertha said the store is a huge benefit to people in the neighborhood.

"It's the greatest thing that's happened over here since the invention of lights," he said.

Arbertha said Save-A-Lot officials told him the store serves about 7,000 people a week and employees about 30 people.

He plans to tell council members about the store's impact at their meeting Tuesday morning. He said he thinks it would be a huge success in Planeview, too.

"If you ask me, they need to start building tomorrow morning," he said.

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