116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A Denver, Colo.-based grocery store chain is planning to expand into Eastern Iowa.
Natural Grocers, which sells organic and natural foods, has new stores planned for Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Cedar Falls.
'We don't believe the retail market for natural and organic foods is being well-enough served in those markets. We believe there is a well-educated population in those cities that will appreciate the offerings we have,” company co-president Kemper Isely said.
He said the chain, which has stores in 19 states, has been looking at expanding into Iowa for more than two years. A Clive location opened in February.
An approximately 15,000-square-foot Cedar Rapids store is planned for 931 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE and is projected to open in the first quarter of 2017. The Cedar Falls store, which would have a similar footprint and opening date, is planned for 5410 University Ave.
Isley said he wasn't prepared to comment on the Iowa City store until after plans are approved by the city. Developer Equity Ventures has requested approval by the Iowa City Council to build a 15,000- square-foot Natural Grocers at the southeast corner of South Gilbert Street and Highway 6 East, where Carlos O'Kelly's and Los Portales now sit.
The plan calls for a new 5,500-square-foot Carlos O'Kelly's to also be built. City of Iowa City development services coordinator John Yapp said Los Portales would close and the land would be privately sold to Equity Ventures.
He said the Planning and Zoning Commission will recommend approval of the redevelopment plan to the City Council, which will vote on it at upcoming meetings. He said the developer has not requested financial assistance from the city.
The plans come as another high-end grocery chain, Fresh Market, is leaving the state, closing its stores in Cedar Rapids and West Des Moines. Another chain, Boulder, Colo.-based Lucky's Market, opened at the Iowa City Marketplace, formerly known as Sycamore Mall, last July, and Iowa City-based New Pioneer Co-Op opened a Cedar Rapids location in December 2014.
Isley said Natural Grocers, founded in 1955, would be different from Lucky's and Fresh Market because it is very strict about the products it carries, including only organic produce and no products containing artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners or partially hydrogenated oils, among many other things.
'Our standards are really high on what we carry in our stores. We're a natural foods store,” he said.