Archive for Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Shopping center’s history dates back to ‘72

December 19, 2001

Although the future of the Basehor shopping complex at 155th Street and State Avenue remains unclear, the history of the building dates back to 1972.

The shopping complex was severely damaged by a fire that investigators said was set deliberately on Saturday, Dec. 15.

The fire destroyed several businesses and damaged others including the Bichelmeyer Brothers Grocery Store, the only grocery store in Basehor.

Bichelmeyer's owner Mark Bichelmeyer said he would not attempt to reopen his business which sustained smoke and water damage.

The fire left the city without a grocery store for the first time since 1951, when Basehor resident Joe Daniels Sr. decided farming wasn't such a good idea.

"We didn't grow a thing in 1951 because of the floods," Daniels said. "We didn't raise anything to amount to anything. No corn, no nothing."

Later in '51, Bill Koch approached Daniels about buying Koch's grocery store business.

After some consideration, Daniels agreed and opened Daniels Grocery Store in the building that now houses the Basehor Community Library.

"I didn't want to, but after '51 he came by and I said I'll take it," Daniels said. "I didn't want to quit farming but '51 was so bad."

Daniels ran the grocery store at the same location for more than 20 years. His store sold everything from meat and milk to overalls and paint, he said.

In 1956, a survey showed the Daniels store sold more meat per square foot than any other store in a four-state area, according to Basehor city records.

But while the store continued to flourish over the years, the Basehor area was growing rapidly.

"With all these people moving in, I was outgrowing my store," Daniels said. "I decided in 1968 to move. I bought the land with the intentions of building the store."

Construction for the new store started in 1971. The building encompassed three of eight acres Daniels had previously purchased.

When the building was finished in October 1972, Daniels and the Basehor area had its first shopping complex.

For 25 years it remained as it was built in 1972, until Daniels had thoughts of expansion in 1997.

By then, Daniels was 80 years old and had since gotten out of the grocery business.

The expansion project entailed adding three business units onto the west side of the property.

Several grocery stores had moved in since Daniels retired, including Waymires, John's and Bichelmeyer's Grocery.

The expansion entailed 5,700 square feet and cost more than $175,000. After the expansion was completed, three new businesses moved into the shopping complex.

Doc and Bruties Pizza, Jenell's Quilt Patch and Williams Insurance/Star Realty moved in to the complex.

All of the businesses sustained smoke and water damage during the recent fire.

News of the Saturday afternoon fire quickly reached Daniels, although he said he hasn't seen the destruction the fire left.

"I just didn't want to go down and see it," Daniels said from his Tonganoxie home. "I regret that it was burnt because it was just a really good part of the community."

Although the building's future remains uncertain, Daniels said the area would be a good fit for a business just as it was for him.

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