Wal-Mart announced Friday it will open its first stand-alone grocery store in New York state in Niskayuna’s Mansion Square shopping center.
Representatives of Wal-Mart and Highbridge Development, which is developing the shopping center, announced plans for the Walmart Neighborhood Market, which is set to open in mid-2013, in a briefing with reporters.
The market is about a quarter of the size of Wal-Mart’s traditional supercenters and is to focus on groceries, with limited general merchandise like health and beauty aids. The store is to be about 40,000 square feet and employ about 90.
“It’s really designed for convenience, even if there’s a supercenter nearby where you do their weekly shopping,” Wal-Mart spokesman William C. Wertz said. “This is a format where, if you’re pressed for time, you can get in and out quickly. It’s convenient, but you can still get Wal-Mart’s famous low prices. So it’s a great package.”
Wal-Mart currently has about 200 of the neighborhood markets nationwide, but the Niskayuna store is the first announced for New York state.
The building will sit along State Street, with the front facing east. Developers fielded inquiries from a number of retailers. Talks with Wal-Mart lasted for more than a year.
The Niskayuna store will open in a community that has seen a boom in grocery options in the past year. Niskayuna already had the long-established Price Chopper across Balltown Road in Mohawk Commons, a Hannaford at Balltown and Consaul roads and the Niskayuna Co-op three miles up Balltown Road, on Nott Street.
Last year, Shop-Rite opened a supermarket in the former St. James Square on Balltown Road, near the co-op.
Target also added grocery options to its long-established store near the Price Chopper in Mohawk Commons.
Wertz said Wal-Mart welcomes the competition.
“It’s just a great thing for the customer, really,” Wertz said. “The more choice a customer has, typically the better deal they get on price and the better the customer is served.
“We have a lot of competitors around the country, and they just make us better,” he added. “We never shy away from locating near a competitor. We just look forward to it.”
With the addition of the Walmart Neighborhood Market, Mansion Square is now nearing capacity, Highbridge President John Roth said. Two spots in The Vitamin Shoppe building are in lease negotiations. A small building to the east of the new Wendy’s restaurant is still open.
They’ve also been waiting to market a 10,000-square-foot building near the entrance from Balltown Road. With the Walmart deal, they will now set about doing that.
“We’re very, very excited about getting the No. 1 retailer into our plaza,” Roth said. “With them occupying, we’re now about 85 percent full. I think with this announcement, the balance of the site will fill up relatively quickly.”
Renovations are being completed on the building for which the plaza is named, the old Stanford mansion, which is being converted to a Berkshire Bank branch, Roth said. He expected that to be open in about a month.
The announcement that Wal-Mart will be occupying the market space comes just more than two months after the building was approved by the town Planning Board without the tenant being named.
Approvals for the overall project were given in 2007, but a legal challenge and economic issues delayed it.
The site was cleared in spring 2009, and an 80-year-old addition built for the Ingersoll nursing home, the previous occupant of the mansion, was torn down in June 2009.
The mansion itself was moved twice, the second time last winter to its current location. The nearly 200-year-old home had been moved from its original location at the center of the property to the State Street side.
Built in the early 19th century, the mansion of Mansion Square housed three town supervisors. It later became the home of both the Schuyler and Stanford families, including Leland Stanford, who went on to found Stanford University in California in 1876.
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