Grading work began last week at the intersection of LeClaire’s South Cody Road (Highway 67) and Eagle Ridge Road to pave the way for a long-debated convenience store. By the end of May, the “official groundbreaking” and scheduled start of construction comes for a new Kwik Star at the southernmost gateway to the growing river […]
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Grading work began last week at the intersection of LeClaire’s South Cody Road (Highway 67) and Eagle Ridge Road to pave the way for a long-debated convenience store. By the end of May, the “official groundbreaking” and scheduled start of construction comes for a new Kwik Star at the southernmost gateway to the growing river city. All of those developments are a welcome relief to LeClaire city officials after a four-year legal battle involving a group of neighboring property owners who tried to prevent the store’s construction. “It’s been a journey,” LeClaire Mayor Dennis Gerard told the QCBJ. “Thankfully, Kwik Star felt LeClaire was a great location and they waited patiently until we finally got through the legal process.” The fight began in April 2018 – a month after the city council cleared the way for the store by rezoning 3.3 acres of land from residential to commercial use - and, disregarding in the process, disregarding in the process a January 2018 vote against the development by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. The lawsuit, filed against the city and the city council, involved whether proper notice was received by the neighbors during the rezoning process. The legal battle essentially ended in an Iowa appellate court last year. It also led to the March 2018 resignations of three members of the city’s zoning commission. “We weren’t involved in the lawsuit, so it hasn’t been stressful or anything,” said Wade Dumond, real estate development manager for Kwik Star. “We’d really wanted something in LeClaire. But because of the bluffs and the river, it’s really difficult to find anything that works well there, which is why we concentrated on the site that we have right now,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to being part of the community. It’s a fun little town to be able to just drive through and visit.” The new store should be open by mid-October, pending supply-chain issues, which make the construction costs currently a “moving target,” Mr. Dumond added. When the store is completed, LeClaire will become home to the 14th Kwik Star in the Iowa Quad Cities. The new store will be similar to the other local sites – offering gas, groceries, hot food, baked goods, and other convenience options. “The only difference is there will be no car wash in this location, because we’re landlocked, and only have so much room,” Mr. Dumond said, noting the extra excavation needed on the LeClaire hillside. Mr. Gerard said besides attracting traffic off nearby Interstate 80, the new Kwik Star will draw residents from across the river in Port Byron, Illinois, as well as upriver in communities such as neighboring Princeton, Iowa. “I personally love Kwik Star,” Mr. Gerard said. “It’s a great place to grab gas and a coffee and their donuts are fantastic. “They’re also a very good employer from what I understand – paying well, training well and with profit-sharing, too,” he said. “So, we’re excited to finally get them here.” Known as Kwik Star in Iowa, the chain is owned by Kwik Trip, Inc., which is headquartered in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and operates nearly 800 stores in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The company has been active in the Quad Cities community since arriving locally in 2014 including acquiring the sponsorship naming rights in 2017 for the Kwik Star Criterium, the region’s annual Memorial Day bicycle races. “We have the blessing of being owned by a family and they are very interested in growth and serving communities,” Mr. Dumond said. “It’s nice to work for a company that cares. So, we tend to find employees that like to be part of their community, and it shows in the stores.” The launch of site work on the development dovetails with the April 18 announcement that a new Fareway is planning to locate in and remodel the former Slagle Foods in LeClaire. It is expected to open during the summer of 2023 – just up the hill on Eagle Ridge Road from the Kwik Star. Without a full-service grocery store since Slagle’s closed in 2019, LeClaire is poised to add two now within a short walk from each other in the span of a year. “They’re not scared of competing with each other,” Mr. Gerard said, noting each entity was aware of the possible competition. “They’re basically next door to each other in Bettendorf (on Belmont Road) – and an Aldi’s is going in across from them with a Hy-Vee down the street (on Devils Glen Road). “They don’t think this is major competition. They think there’s good synergy there. And they are different. Kwik Star is convenience; Fareway is more a place for your major shopping for the week. For instance, you might get your meat for a barbecue at Fareway and grab something else prepared for the party at Kwik Star.” In terms of expansion, Mr. Dumond said this should be the last new Kwik Star locally for the foreseeable future. “I know that we continue to get some sites suggested that we’re continuing to look at,” he said. “There’s a few areas of town that might work at some point, especially as everything continues to grow.”