Stewart’s seeking new ways to grow

Stewart’s Shops is looking to expand its reach into a town where it’s never been — Galway.

Stewart’s Shops is looking to expand its reach into a town where it’s never been — Galway.

The company has an option to purchase a convenience store and gas station on the corner of routes 147 and 29, said Tom L. Lewis, Stewart’s real estate representative.

“It’s contingent on a number of factors that have to be worked out,” he said.

If the deal goes through, Stewart’s would tear down the existing building, Dick and Jerry’s Gulf Minimart, and build a new Stewart’s.

“If there’s any remediation that had to be done on the site, we’d clean it up as per DEC standards,” Lewis said.

The company has no stores in rural Galway, and its closest site now is at the junction of routes 67 and 147 in Charlton, about six miles from the contemplated site.

“We think Galway is a good market,” Lewis said.

No one answered the phone Tuesday afternoon at Dick and Jerry’s.

Overall, Stewart’s has tapped out the market for new stores in the region and is turning its focus to rebuilding its older, smaller stores to make them more user-friendly, Lewis said.

For example, a proposal before the Planning Board in Halfmoon would enlarge the busy store on Route 146 east of the Northway and add more parking, double the number of gas pumps and make it easier for customers to get in and out of the site.

“It’s supposed to be easy for the customer, not difficult,” Lewis said.

The company has signed a contract to buy a small parcel of adjacent land where it would build a new, 3,000-square-foot store, tear down the old store and install more gas pumps. The plan, which has not yet been approved, would have an entrance on Plant Road in addition to the entrance on Route 146.

The original store was built in 1989 on a 1.17-acre lot.

“There wasn’t anywhere near as many people or cars on the road” then, Lewis said.

With the addition, the new lot would be 1.52 acres, though “a large portion” of the lot is not usable because of its unusual shape, he said.

The bigger shops have four gas pumps, which allow eight cars to fill up at one time. That’s smaller than Hess and Mobil gas stations, which usually have six to eight such islands, but Stewart’s still considers itself more of a food service store than a gas station, Lewis said.

The Halfmoon store has only two gas pumps allowing for four cars to fill up at once, and the plans would double that.

“I think we’re investing like $1.3 million in this store,” Lewis said. “It’s worth it to make it easier for the customer.”

At a recent Zoning Board meeting in Halfmoon, nearby residents expressed concerns about the new, bigger store, including more traffic on Plant Road and more noise. Lewis hopes to get Planning Board approval soon, so the company can start construction in the spring and be open by summer.

The existing store would be open the entire time construction is under way, though there would be four weeks with no gasoline while the new pumps are installed, he said.

The company has already revamped stores in Colonie, Fonda, Albany, Cobleskill and Northumberland, and has plans to redo one in Duanesburg and another in Colonie.

Categories: Business

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