Stockade residents told the city Planning Commission not to let a man from outside the neighborhood set up shop in Arthur’s Market, even though they want the store reopened.
They objected to Mohammed Alazani, who has little experience with convenience stores and said he knows nothing about the historic neighborhood that has supported the market for decades.
He failed to bring any business plans to Wednesday’s commission meeting, so the commissioners refused to vote on his project. They will consider it again next month. But they noted that they had previously approved a tenant to run a convenience store at the site and said they see no difference between one convenience store and another.
Still, neighbors swore they would not buy from the market if Alazani ran it and predicted that he would add “objectionable” signs and “offensive” items for sale.
His application to the commission says he will sell sandwiches and grocery items. But it also says he will sell “cigarettes and more.”
“This is not the type of store the residents are looking for,” said resident Connie Colangelo, adding that residents want the store to become the community gathering spot it once was under Arthur Polachek’s ownership.
“It’s the hub of our community. It is the tie that binds us,” she said.
The Polacheks retired in 2004, after running the store for more than 50 years, and put it up for lease. Two tenants could not make ends meet and closed down, so the building was sold to Artur and Joyce Wachala. They tried to replicate the old Arthur’s Market, but they, too, could not make a profit.
Now, they are trying to lease or sell the market.
But one resident said it shouldn’t become a convenience store, noting that there are now three within walking distance.
“A convenience store is not what we need,” resident Greg Sauer said.
Under the Polacheks, he said, the market was not a convenience store. He said it was mainly a grocery.
“A convenience store would probably draw from the outside, and that is not appropriate,” he said.
Resident Gloria Kishton, who is also the chairwoman of the Schenectady Heritage Foundation, said a convenience store would have “objectionable features.”
“We certainly wouldn’t want to have big Lotto signs in the windows and flashing signs for all sorts of things,” she said. “Would you OK such a thing … when you know many of the features of a convenience store would be objectionable and offensive in that neighborhood?”
But Artur Wachala said the store would be no different from Arthur’s Market.
“Arthur Polachek used to have signs in the windows. I don’t remember that being a problem before,” he said.
He suggested that the neighbors are simply prejudiced against Alazani, who speaks limited English..
“Just because he does not speak proper English doesn’t mean he doesn’t run a good store,” Wachala said.
Resident and Stockade Association President Mary D’Alessandro-Gilmore told the commission that neighbors are worried Alazani will become the fourth consecutive business owner to fail if he is given permission to open the store.
“There seems to be a great deal of concern about the experience of this gentleman,” she said.
In a brief interview two weeks ago, Alazani said his experience consisted of working in a convenience store for a short period of time. However, at Wednesday’s meeting, he appeared with a partner who may provide more experience. The partner said he works at two convenience stores in Troy that are owned by his family.