Ending months of speculation, Big Y Foods. Inc, officially announced plans to open a supermarket at 656 New Haven Ave. in Derby.
“We look forward to bringing Big Y’s world class service, quality and selection closer to shoppers in Derby and surrounding communities,” Charles D’Amour, Big Y’s president and chief operating officer, said in a press release.
The same press release said the company plans to invest $5 million in the site, which was formerly home to Walmart and an Adams grocery store.
The Big Y will be about 60,000 square feet within the “soon to be redeveloped 177,000-square-foot retail center.”
As of Tuesday, Derby building official Carlo Sarmiento said no plans or paperwork of any kind had been submitted.
Mayor Rich Dziekan said he learned of Big Y’s plans through the local media Wednesday afternoon.
He said he is excited to welcome the store — and about 150 jobs — to Derby.
Dziekan was sworn in as mayor Dec. 2.
“We couldn’t be happier,” Dziekan said. “We’re very glad Big Y and the owners of the plaza got together. This is a big one for Derby with the 150 jobs coming into town.”
Those jobs are a mix of part and full-time positions, according to Big Y.
The shopping plaza off Route 34 “is being redeveloped and marketed by DLC Management Corporation of Elmsford, N.Y.,” according to the Big Y statement.
They hope to open in 2019.
Also happy — Ajay Manchanda. He owns The Liquor Factory, a liquor store nestled between the empty Walmart and the empty Adams grocery store.
“Big Y coming here will be a boon for this plaza, you watch,” Manchanda said. “We need an anchor. We need a grocery store.”
Manchanda’s said he lost about 10 percent of this business after the two stores left, but most regular customers remained.
The bigger issue for his family-owned store was the lack of lights in the parking lot. It made his store look less inviting. He saw an uptick in property crimes after his neighbors left — the first time he had such issues during his 10 years in business.
He has a long-term lease with the plaza. He rejected the oft-repeated rumor that Walmart left because the landlord raised the rent.
“People buy everything online on Amazon. Walmart knows that. They know there’s no future in retail, so they started closing their smaller stores,” Manchanda said.
Big Y — with the potential to draw from nearby customers in Orange, Woodbridge and Derby’s hilltop — is a different thing.
“But you know what people don’t buy online?” Manchanda asked. “Meat.”
The press release circulated Wednesday mentions Big Y already has a strong presence locally, with stores in Ansonia and Shelton.
A persistent rumor in the Valley — Big Y is planing to close its store near downtown Ansonia in favor of the new Route 34 store.
John Marini, Ansonia’s corporation counsel, said the city has reached out to Big Y after hearing the same rumors during election season.
“Zero plans to close the store,” Marini said in an email. “It’s interesting to note that Big Y is opening new stores in several nearby towns, which leads us to believe they are attempting to squeeze Stop & Shop out of the mid-income grocery market, but that’s speculation.”
The Valley Indy has left numerous messages with the companies since Nov. 3.
Sheila O’Malley, Ansonia’s economic development director, said the owner of the Big Y shopping plaza in Ansonia has repeatedly said the Route 34 Big Y would draw from Orange and Woodbridge. It won’t take away Ansonia’s business, she said.
“Big Y just recently invested in renovations in our city indicating a positive growth cycle. Big Y nationally is opening more stores,” she said.
According to the Big Y press release:
“As part of the project DLC Management Corporation plans overhaul the center with a multi-million dollar renovation which will include façade modernization, parking lot repaving/re-striping, sidewalk repairs, streetscape and landscape enhancements along with lighting improvements.”
New Haven Avenue, also known as state Route 34, is a heavily-traveled road on Derby’s border with Orange leading to New Haven and Interstate 95.
The closing of Walmart and Adams in 2016 was a black eye for Derby, leaving a big hole in the city’s commercial corridor.
The question of whether Big Y was coming was also a last minute question posed the weekend before the Nov. 6 election, showing just how important economic development issues are in Derby.
“To bring a brand like Big Y to Derby will have such a profound impact on the local community and economy,” said Chris Ressa, DLC’s senior vice-president of
leasing. “We are honored to be a part of this development and remain committed to making Derby a remarkable place to live, work, shop, and dine.”
The Valley Indy reached out to DLC last month for comment:
Would it've killed ya to
a dude? <a href="https://t.co/9la9fUOsvN">pic.twitter.com/9la9fUOsvN</a></p>— The Valley Indy (ValleyIndy) December 6, 2017
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