Broulim’s takes another step toward a Victor store
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VICTOR — East Idaho’s largest family-owned grocer has taken the first step toward establishing its second store in Teton County.
Store owners recently requested a zone change from the city of Victor that could establish an almost 20,000 square-foot, multi-use building at the site of the old Victor Elementary School.
Broulim’s Vice President Mark Oswald is hoping the third time’s a charm in the south end of the valley.
“It has been a difficult process,” Oswald said of trying to develop with the city of Victor. “We are doing everything we can to find the right fit for us and for the city.”
He told EastIdahoNews.com Thursday morning that after two failed attempts in Victor to establish a second store in the valley, the company “worked hard” to accommodate the city’s needs and incorporate what the company felt they were hearing from the public.
Oswald said the company was determined to make it work in Victor and purchased the old school from Teton School District 401 for double the asking price last summer. The local school board accepted the $600K offer which is only good if Broulim’s can successfully navigate the city rezone and development process.
Not everyone is on board though. Shawn Hill, the executive director for the nonprofit Valley Advocates for Responsible Development, a local planning watchdog group, said Thursday that the city should not rezone the parcel and the school board should reconsider what is best for the city.
“Keeping that parcel as a civic use or residential use is the best use for that parcel,” Hill said. “A grocery store can go anywhere. A historical building cannot. If the city of Victor doesn’t want that (grocery store) there, it’s within their rights to deny a grocery store the rezone.”
VARD staff opposed the addition of a new grocery store during the last two times Broulim’s sought to develop in Victor asking leadership to require better connectivity to the downtown and housing needs among other amenities. Hill said for whatever reason, the city leadership wouldn’t push back and now they are faced with the prospect of tearing down a 90-year-old historic building in the center of town.
Hill was also critical of the Teton County School Board for accepting the highest possible bid for the building and land without considering what was best for the city. The three other lower bids from developers proposed workforce housing developments, a bowling alley, recreational amenities and outdoor community spaces in the hopes of maintaining and reimaging the old building. The school district did not need to take the highest bidder and has the option of placing the Victor property on the open real estate market. However, the board moved to look at doubling its asking price at $600,000 and left the zoning and development work up to city officials
“Since I have lived in Teton Valley, I have voted for millions in increased tax dollars,” Hill said of the school board’s balloted levies and bonds. “I will always support the school and work to get them what they need, but to just accept the bid just because it’s more money and after the community stepped up time and time again to vote for increased taxes? Maybe the school board should consider more than just money and not let the old school building go?”
In the zone change application, the new store will sit with the main entrance to the building facing north toward East Birch Street. The building is proposed to sit along 330 feet of Center Street (where the front of the school is currently located). From the draft renderings, there is a 70-unit parking lot in front of the main entrance of the building to the north with a drive-through pharmacy window. There are two accesses for vehicles along Center Street with a deli entrance.
Broulim’s wrote in the rezone application that they would like to build living units on top of the store to provide affordable housing options for their employees or other local employees. Oswald said the store will likely employ 75 new employees at the Victor store.
Oswald said the company is planning on trying to use the existing limestone exterior of the school and will look to use the old gym floor and bleachers with the interior design. Among other ideas, Oswald said the Victor store will likely be the only Broulim’s store to be open on Sundays.
The Victor planning and zoning commission will hear the zone change application in a public hearing on Feb. 18. Broulim’s is requesting to up-zone the 2.5-acre parcel of land that sits tucked in between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building to the east, the Mobil gas station to the west on Main Street and the Victor City Park to the southwest to a commercial zone that allows for retail and employee housing units.