A North Carolina specialty grocery chain is looking for greener pastures in Price Chopper’s backyard.
A Buffalo developer is proposing to restructure the partially vacant Shaker Loudon Plaza at the corner of Routes 9 and 155. It wants to build a 19,500-square-foot Fresh Market next to the shopping center’s Hollywood Video.
To create what it is calling Fresh Market Commons, Benderson Development Co. is proposing to raze and rebuild parts of the 129,700-square-foot plaza. The redevelopment would ultimately shrink the plaza’s footprint by 24.5 percent to 105,100 square feet.
Benderson’s site plan, which the developer submitted to Colonie planning officials last month, identifies one tenant as Fresh Market. Benderson representatives declined to confirm whether the Fresh Market is the same grocery chain that is based in Greensboro, N.C.
Colonie Senior Planner Kevin DeLaughter said the Fresh Market is part of a chain, but he did not know where it is headquartered. A spokesman for the Greensboro grocer said the chain is looking for “something in the area.”
“All I know is they’re looking … We’re just not at a point we can talk about anything because we don’t have anything finalized,” Fresh Market spokeswoman Jennifer Foushee said.
At almost 20,000 square feet, the Fresh Market would be roughly a third the size of many of the Capital Region’s Price Chopper and Hannaford supermarkets. For example, the Rotterdam-based Golub Corp. is building a 69,000-square-foot Price Chopper at the Colonie Plaza on Central Avenue.
“If it’s 20,000 square feet, it’s not going to be a terribly large supermarket, which tells me it would be a limited-offering supermarket,” said Jim Rogers, president and chief executive officer of the Food Industry Alliance, an Albany trade organization.
The Colonie Fresh Market would be the grocer’s first in New York, and its closest store to Albany is in Center Valley, Pa. The chain in June announced it will open its first Northeast store next spring in the Boston suburb of Hingham. Fresh Market was founded in 1982 in Greensboro, and now has 80 stores in 18 states.
Fresh Market’s Web site describes its stores as conveying the “atmosphere of an old world European market.” They each have an old-style butcher shop, a fish market, and bakery, produce and floral stands. The chain is moving near the home turf of Price Chopper, which was founded in 1932 and now has 116 supermarkets in six states.
Price Chopper spokeswoman Mona Golub did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.
The Shaker Loudon Plaza has turned into a sleeping shopping center since losing anchors such as Office Max and Raymour & Flanigan Furniture. Its remaining tenants include the Hollywood Video, Total Tan, Jenny Craig and Hearing Solutions. Those stores will not be affected by the restructuring, according to the site plan.
Benderson wants to rebuild a 25,000-square-foot space next to the 27,300-square-foot former Office Max space. It also wants to develop a free-standing 14,600-square-foot pharmacy in the plaza’s parking lot.
Colonie planning officials will review the plaza proposal Dec. 16. DeLaughter said Benderson might seek a substantial waiver on the town’s minimum parking requirements. The developer is proposing to shrink the shopping center’s parking lot to 439 slots from 511.