Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will close an existing store in Latham and open a bigger one nearby at the brand new Shoppes at Latham Circle development.
The company announced Tuesday it would open a new Supercenter at the site of the former Latham Circle Mall, making it the third major tenant planned for the revitalized shopping center.
“We’ve been waiting for Walmart to make this announcement,” said Mark Hebert, vice president of development with Grossman Development Group, the Boston developer overseeing the project. “The anchor tenant is the most significant piece of the puzzle. So for them to come forward now is a big deal, not just for Walmart but for other potential tenants who were waiting to see who would announce.”
The new Walmart will occupy 180,000 square feet at the Route 9 site and will offer a full line of groceries — something its existing store at Latham Farms did not offer.
“Our customers have long been asking us to add groceries to our store because they want more affordable shopping choices,” said Walmart spokesman William C. Wertz in an email. “We can serve customers much better with an expanded store at the new site. This is a good project for the company and community, and we hope our participation will help ensure the success of a major redevelopment project.”
The new store is expected to create 85 new jobs, with 200 employees from the existing store at Latham Farms slated to relocate to the bigger store. The Latham Farms store will close once the new store opens.
That could happen in about a year, said Hebert.
“We’re looking to break ground and start construction in the next 30 days,” he said. “Walmart’s portion and some surrounding site work will start and should be about a year’s worth of construction.”
Latham Circle Mall opened in 1957 as an open-air shopping plaza but was converted into an enclosed mall in the late 1970s. The once-thriving shopping center lost stores over the years and eventually came to be seen as a dead mall.
Together with Reality Financial Partners, Grossman Development Group came up with a plan to transform the moribund mall, first by demolishing all but its main anchors, then by building an open-air plaza with more than 372,000 square feet of new retail space in its place. The goal was to get a mix of anchor stores, small shops, restaurants, a cinema and a grocery store.
Walmart will be the main anchor and the grocery store. Of the three anchors that weren’t demolished last year — Lowe’s, JC Penney and a 10-screen Regal Cinemas — only Lowe’s remains. Around the same time demolition began in March 2013, Dick’s Sporting Goods filed paperwork with the town of Colonie to open a 52,000-square-foot store at the new plaza.
“These things never seem to advance as quickly as you like, but the good news is we’re here now and we have an opportunity to do something fun with this space,” said Hebert.
He expects several smaller retailers to start announcing their tenancy at the center soon, and others to be interested in the site now that Walmart has made its plans official.