The impending closure of Save-A-Lot on downtown Davenport's west edge could boost efforts to attract a full-service grocer to downtown, the head of the Downtown Davenport Partnership said Monday.
The store's closing "puts that much more pressure on us to get a grocery store downtown," said Kyle Carter, executive director of the Partnership — an initiative of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce.
According to Carter, Save-A-Lot sits outside the boundaries of the special downtown taxing district served by the Partnership, but its closing is "not good news, that's for sure."
"If there is any silver lining in this, maybe it helps the case for a grocery store to be built downtown to accommodate even more people," he said.
A store representative, who asked to not be identified, confirmed Monday that the Save-A-Lot at 1309 W. 4th St., near the Kraft Heinz plant, is closing and the building is being sold. She did not know when it will close or when the real estate deal will be complete. She also would not disclose the buyer. The second Davenport store, at 405 E. Locust St., also is for sale, she said, but there have been no offers on it.
Both stores were owned by Don "Donny" Conklin, who died last May at age 58. The representative said the stores now are owned by his wife, Sharon Conklin.
At the Locust Street store, "it's business as usual," the representative said. She added that the 15 employees impacted by the closing will be allowed to transfer to the sister store.
Conklin first opened his Conklin's Super-Valu store on 4th Street in 1983, converting it to a Save-A-Lot in 1995. He opened the Locust Street store in a former Eagle Country Market in 2005.
Carter said securing a grocery store in the downtown core has long been a goal of the Partnership. "I think we've finally started to reach critical mass where we can support one," he said.
Downtown now boasts about 1,300 housing units in the area roughly between the Government Bridge and the Stanley Talbot Memorial Bridge (formerly Centennial), he said. Another 200 units are under construction and more are in the planning.
But Carter said it is important that downtown attract "an appropriate-sized" grocery store. "It has to be modest-sized, we can't support a supermarket."
He added "Downtown Des Moines just got their supermarket-sized grocery last year, and they have thousands and thousands more people in their downtown than we do."
Downtown hotelier and developer Restoration St. Louis still has expressed interest in a small-sized grocery for its City Square project, Carter said. "We'd still like a small-sized grocery, free-standing like Fareway, but we've got to find someone that understands our market."