Wegmans Food Markets Inc., a grocer based in Rochester with a cult-like following, is targeting a largely vacant office park on the Platinum Mile in Harrison for its first Westchester location.
The company on Dec. 6 filed plans jointly with the property’s owners, Normandy Real Estate Partners LLC, for a 125,000-square-foot, two-story grocery store with a cafe area and 736 parking spaces on a 20-acre lot in the town of Harrison. The application also includes an 8,000-square-foot standalone retail building.
Wegmans representatives confirmed the location and released a press statement announcing plans for the Westchester store after being contacted by the Business Journal on Wednesday afternoon.
“We look forward to the day when we can welcome customers into our Harrison store and help them make delicious, easy meals,” said Ralph Uttaro, Wegmans senior vice president of real estate. “Harrison is an ideal place for us to deliver on our promise of incredible customer service, the best ingredients, restaurant-quality prepared foods and consistent low prices.”
Wegmans is family-owned and operates 92 stores, including 46 in New York, 17 in Pennsylvania, seven in New Jersey, 10 in Virginia, eight in Maryland and four in Massachusetts.
The grocery store chain generates a great amount of national attention relative to its size. Buzzfeed hailed it as the “Greatest Supermarket The World Will Ever Know.” The Washington Post ran an article last year headlined “Why Wegmans really is the best supermarket in the U.S.“ The chain’s 47,000 employees are consistently rated among the country’s happiest, according to lists from Fortune and Forbes magazine that both place Wegmans in the top 10 best places to work nationally. The company had annual sales of close to $8 billion in 2015, it reported on its website.
The Harrison location would follow several other expansions by the company in the tristate region. Wegmans will open two New Jersey locations in 2017 and a store in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard at an undetermined date.
The largely vacant office buildings on the targeted lot—106, 108 and 110 Corporate Park Drive—would be demolished. The buildings, part of Normandy’s Exchange portfolio of Platinum Mile office-park properties along Interstate 287 in Harrison and White Plains, are expected to have an overall occupancy rate of about 2 percent next year, according to the filing with the Harrison Planning Board.
The planned grocery business, in the so-called “teardrop” area of west Harrison, follows the town’s vision for the area in its revised 2013 master plan. That plan called for creation of a mixed-use zone in the teardrop to allow assisted-care facilities, senior housing and other residential development, as well as retail and restaurants approved for special exception permits.
The plan was in response to the town’s shrinking commercial tax base on the Platinum Mile, which represented 60 percent of Harrison’s tax revenue 30 years ago but just 12 percent by 2012.
The proposed Wegmans location is down the street from a 421-unit residential building developed in a joint venture of the owner, Normandy, and Pennsylvania-based luxury home developer Toll Brothers. That project, scheduled to begin construction early next year, will replace two vacant office buildings at 103 and 105 Corporate Park Drive that will be torn down.
The application from Wegmans and Normandy is on the agenda for the Harrison Planning Board’s Dec. 20 meeting.