After a long, cold and very snowy winter, construction and new tenant signings are picking up pace at two redevelopment projects along Pershing Drive in Derby.
Red Raider Plaza
The parking lot in Red Raider Plaza at the intersection of Pershing Drive and Division Street has been uprooted, and contractors are working to fix long-standing water drainage problems at the property.
The shopping center is owned by the Walgreens Eastern Co.
The Pershing Drive side of the property, once home to an Xpect Discounts, has been redeveloped into a Planet Fitness. The business celebrated its grand opening Feb. 4.
If everything goes as planned, a Wayback Burgers will open later this month next to Planet Fitness, according to Brian Veo, the owner of the burger joint.
Veo said last week he hopes to be open by April 18, at the latest.
And a third tenant, Jersey Mike’s Subs, is planning to move next to Planet Fitness and Wayback Burgers, according to permits on file in the Derby building department.
A rep from Jersey Mike’s could not say when the store plans to open.
The first Jersey Mike’s opened in 1956 on the Jersey shore. There are seven locations in Connecticut, including one in Branford (20 miles from the Valley) and Fairfield (23 miles away).
The building with Planet Fitness and Wayback still has five empty storefronts. There are a few possible tenants, but leases have not been signed.
Veo said he heard one of the tenants is a unisex hair salon, such as Cost Cutters or Super Cuts.
Meanwhile, the rest of the old Red Raider Plaza, stretching roughly from Radio Shack on Division Street to Smoke Junction on Pershing Drive, will receive a facelift. The stores will receive a new exterior look that matches that of the Wayback/Planet Fitness building, according to Carlo Sarmiento, the City of Derby’s building official.
Here are the tenants in the old portion of Red Raider Plaza:
- Crown Fried Chicken
- Radio Shack
- Suds Laundromat
- Smoke Junction
- Four empty spaces
The recently started drainage work is going to be a challenge for the Red Raider tenants.
Because of the construction, parking is limited. People need to walk around the construction in front of the building to get to Radio Shack and Crown Fried Chicken on Division Street.
The Red Raider Plaza redevelopment project has been a long time coming.
It was first proposed in 2011. It was approved by the city, but delayed when the owner of the ShopRite plaza across the street, worried that the development would make a bad traffic situation worse, filed a lawsuit.
Then, Walgreens changed its mind and decided not to build a Walgreens pharmacy on the property.
Veo, the Wayback’s owner, said he signed the lease for his space last June, but couldn’t start working on the project until recently because of the changes to the redevelopment project.
Former Valley Bowl Property
Meanwhile, the property immediately to the south of Red Raider Plaza, the former Valley Bowl site, is welcoming some new tenants of its own.
It’s now called the Pershing Shopping Center.
They’ll soon be joined by Physician One Urgent Care, who are in the process of moving into their own building located in between Aldi’s and the Italian Pavilion.
Physician One is a walk-in clinic that will provide patients with care ranging from common cold treatments to x-rays for broken bones, according to their website.
The Derby clinic will be open sometime this spring, according to Physician One’s website.
Real estate broker Louis Proto, of the Proto Group of North Haven, said an AT&T store will also be moving in within the next few months.
Spots are still available for a fourth building to be constructed toward Italian Pavilion, the popular Derby restaurant that occupies a space on the southernmost tip of the 5-acre property.
Jerry Nocerino owns the former Valley Bowl development area and helped bring in Aldi’s and Panera Bread. He did not return calls for comment.
Art Gerckens, the president of the Board of Aldermen, said the two redevelopment projects are obviously good for Derby.
“It’s wonderful to see the parking lot filled with cars,” Gerckens said. “I actually joined the new Planet Fitness. You can go there any time during the day and at night. It’s just tremendous to see the cars going in and out of there and we’re breathing some life into our little town.”
The Valley Bowl property was once a magnet for people in the Valley, but was underutilized in recent years.
“All the new businesses seem to be doing great,” Gerckens said. “There was nothing there for years and just to see the hustle and the bustle is just tremendous for the city and the residents who use the establishments.”