Saratoga County

Grocer plans smaller market in Saratoga Springs

Price Chopper plans to build a smaller, urban-concept grocery store in the city’s center while it ke

Price Chopper plans to build a smaller, urban-concept grocery store in the city’s center while it keeps the current market at 19 Railroad Place open.

Officials from Golub Properties Inc. and Bonacio Construction on Friday announced that Bonacio purchased the 2.8-acre property at Church Street and Railroad Place for $4.25 million.

They closed on the deal Wednesday.

President Sonny Bonacio plans to build some type of multistory building on the lot after a few years, he said, but he’s not sure what else it will have besides a 15,000-square-foot grocery store. The current Price Chopper, built in 1957, is 23,360 square feet.

“This is a new format. This is not a rubber-stamp store,” Bonacio said.

The new store would be built about three years from now at the south end of the parcel over part of the current parking lot, he said.

Neil Golub, president and chief executive officer of the Golub Corp., which owns the Price Chopper chain, said the new store would carry most of the components of the Price Chopper stores but might have a different name.

“We’d like to not be confusing about what our brand is,” he said.

Price Chopper will lease its current store from Bonacio for three years until the new one is built and then will lease the new store from Bonacio, Golub said.

He hopes for a seamless transition between when the old store closes and the new one opens.

Bonacio said he doesn’t know yet whether he’ll demolish the old Price Chopper after the new one is built. “We’re going to let the market decide that,” he said.

Golub said the company started negotiations over a year ago after deciding that it needed to sell the property and that building a new store or renovating would be too expensive.

But the company also didn’t want to abandon downtown customers, Golub said, noting that in Schenectady, Price Chopper’s hometown, most urban stores have remained open.

“We have been very careful over the years about closing stores,” he said.

Earlier this year, rumors started to circulate that the Railroad Place Price Chopper would close its doors, and residents who use the store petitioned company officials not to close.

Some, like Caroline Stem, who collected 1,250 signatures, feared that Bonacio would buy the property and bring in a high-end grocery store that lower- and middle-income residents wouldn’t be able to afford.

Golub said on Friday that the new store will carry affordable food.

“It will be a grocery store that will serve the basic needs of the community,” he said. “It’s not meant to be something that’s going to have things that are priced way up here that people won’t want,” Golub said.

Stem said she was satisfied with what Golub and Bonacio said, but she wasn’t afraid to continue to be vocal about wanting an affordable grocer.

“I think it’s important to keep that concern out there,” she said.

City officials and members of the community attended the announcement Friday afternoon in City Hall.

Mayor Scott Johnson said Bonacio approached him some months ago to discuss the community’s concerns about losing their neighborhood Price Chopper.

“To me, it was a good example of what our community should be doing together,” Johnson said.

Supervisor Joanne Yepsen said the announcement seems to keep the downtown as a place where people can walk to get what they need at an affordable price.

Bonacio said his other projects in the city are doing well.

Park Place, the condominium project under construction adjacent to Congress Park, has 65 percent of the units under contract, and The Lofts on Division Street has 13 open spaces on the upper levels.

Bonacio had been approved to buy a city-owned parking lot on Broadway from the city, but city officials have not closed on the deal with him yet because they want to take another look at parking issues before selling the property, he said Friday.

Categories: Schenectady County

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