Schenectady County

Neighbors eager for ShopRite

Lines of shopping carts were visible Tuesday just inside the new Niskayuna ShopRite, as workers put

Lines of shopping carts were visible Tuesday just inside the new Niskayuna ShopRite, as workers put the finishing touches on the new grocery store.

The store itself is set to open Sunday with what company and town officials expect will be lines of people looking to take those carts out on their first spins around the store.

Among those looking forward to the opening are ShopRite’s new neighbors in the former St. James Square.

The plaza has been without an anchor store to draw extra business for nearly a decade.

L.J. Goldstock, an owner of LT’s Grill, said he hopes shoppers coming for the ShopRite will take a second look at the plaza itself.

LT’s Grill is in its fifth year at the plaza, all of that time spent without an anchor store.

“We’ve already seen the traffic coming in,” Goldstock said. “People are coming in, wanting to see what’s going on.”

And that’s just when the store was being renovated. When ShopRite is open, Goldstock is hoping the new ShopRite customers will check out his restaurant along the way.

“We’re looking forward to it,” he said.

The long-underused plaza has been undergoing a face-lift almost since the May announcement that ShopRite was coming.

That May announcement came with a $12 million commitment from the grocery store chain. Of that, $3 million was tagged for interior renovation work to the store itself, with site purchase and renovations to the parking lot and exterior pushing the total project cost to $12 million.

The entire parking lot in front of the grocery store has been repaved, and other enhancements are complete. The square itself has also gotten a new name, with signs erected reflecting the change. The old St. James Square will now be known as ShopRite Square.

Town officials have cited the ShopRite store as leading the way in rejuvenating the plaza.

Donald Siegel, the dean of the University at Albany School of Business, said anchor stores like ShopRite can have a large impact on the number of people going to a plaza.

He also sees the possibility of other stores taking a look at the plaza, which still has vacant storefronts, including the old Friendly’s.

For the businesses already there, who have stuck it out without a major store in the plaza, Siegel said their business should increase as well.

“It definitely increases the economic activity at stores in the same complex,” he said. “Assuming that rents don’t go up, it means higher profit.”

The impact can also extend to the gas stations nearby, Siegel said.

Pat Johnson, an owner at Tropics Tanning Salon a couple of doors down from the ShopRite, said she hopes there will be enough good parking for everyone.

Overall, said Johnson, whose salon opened in November 2009, they’re looking forward to it and excited about ShopRite opening.

“Not just for the customers,” Johnson said, “but for me. I can just go right next door and do some shopping. But I think the exposure’s going to be great for the business.”

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