Out-of-town grocer considers River Prairie site
Posted: May 24, 2013
TBL has learned that LaCrosse,WI-based Access Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) is negotiating with two potential grocers who are considering a store location on the southwest quadrant of the River Prairie Development in Altoona.
According to ACRE Principal Casey Weiss, he is working with two out-of-town grocery chains.
"The footprint is about 70,000 square feet, but it's probably going to be a bit bigger than that. I don't exactly know the space needs at this time. I am waiting for one of the prospects to provide a site plan," said Weiss, who declined to elaborate any further to protect the identity of both parties.
Rick Lambrecht, a former CEO of Consumers Cooperative Association of Eau Claire for 26 years, said his Mega Foods chain considered the River Prairie site at one time. However, he said he is unsure who would be considering a store in an already crowded grocery market.
"First of all, Eau Claire is very fortunate to have a lot of quality grocers in the market. However, it always seems like someone comes into the market because they feel they have a niche that would make them unique," said Lambrecht, who added, "I think the Eau Claire market is over-saturated based on the amount of square footage dedicated to supermarkets because of what a store has to do per square feet in sales".
One of the chains that Lambrecht said may be intrigued by the Eau Claire market is West Des Moines,IA-based Hy-Vee, an employee-owned chain with more than 235 retail stores across eight Midwestern states.
"I am impressed with Hy-Vee. They are a very well-managed company and this would be a market that they would look at," he said.
As far as a larger, regional grocer entering the Eau Claire market, Lambrecht said he doubts any of the major players would consider Eau Claire until the population base increases substantially.
"One of the things that make the stores so good in this market is that everyone who has come here in recent years has added value in terms of customer service and competition ...so I think the larger grocery chains are looking for a market with more than 100,000 potential customers," said Lambrecht. TBL