Plans for the old Hy-Vee on schedule

Published 9:35 am Saturday, August 18, 2018

Leases for three tenants that hope to occupy space at the old Hy-Vee building are in the process of being finalized. Once the leases are finalized, construction can begin on the building.

The old Hy-Vee was sold by the Austin Port Authority for $400,000 to Verona, Wisconsin, based firm Slaby and Associates, who took control of the building Aug. 1. Under the contract, Slaby and Associates has a due diligence period during which time it will either successfully market the 52,000-square-foot building for tenants – which must include an anchor store – or it will withdraw from the agreement.

The agreement also says Slaby and Associates need to establish a new building at the Farmer’s Market lot, located between O’Reilly Auto Parts and the Hy-Vee gas station, which will have a “fast casual” or “sit-down” restaurant along with three other tenants.

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The Hy-Vee plans call for five tenants to occupy the revitalized building, and Slaby and Associates has received letters of intent from three prospective tenants: Marshalls, Pet Supplies Plus and Five Below. Slaby and Associates Vice President Victor Baeten said their leases must be wrapped up, which he estimated would occur in four to six weeks, before construction can begin.

In the meantime, Slaby and Associates has made construction plans and has already sent mold and asbestos inspectors to the building.

“We have a bunch of moving things,” Baeten said. “We have to gut the building from nothing. Pretty much everything has to be gutted out except the structural supports.”

Baeten also said they will replace the HVAC system and will construct new façades for each tenant.

“You won’t be able to tell it was an old grocery store when we’re done,” he said.

Slaby and Associates is continuing to look for other tenants to occupy the remaining two spots in the building. Baeten said that some stores have shown interest, though he could not disclose which stores.

“Now, it’s about getting them out to the market,” he said. “It’s only a function of time to fill them out, and right now that time is unknown.”

“I feel like we have the right three to start the project and I feel like there will be a fill-in of other tenants to follow them,” he added.

To date, about 180 different stores have been contacted about the space.

Baeten said the project is on track for the new businesses to open before the 2019 holiday season. Slaby and Associates hopes to turn the space over to the tenants by Aug. 1, 2019. Baeten anticipated openings would take anywhere from 30 to 90 days after that, depending on what each business needed to do to prepare for opening.

“I think Marshalls is driving the bus on when others open,” he said. “(The other tenants will) want to open when Marshalls does.”

Baeten is optimistic about the success of the project.

“The Port Authority and City of Austin have been a pleasure to work with,” he said. “We look forward to bringing something exciting and new to the area.”