Wegmans Family Markets Inc. is cleared to make its entrance into Westchester County. The Harrison Town Board has approved plans for the Rochester-based grocery chain to tear down three mostly vacant office buildings and build a 125,000-square-foot store along the town’s Platinum Mile.
Wegmans, ranked annually by Consumer Reports as one of the nation’s top grocery stores, announced plans in December for the store. The family-owned company is in contract to buy three buildings, 106, 108 and 110 Corporate Park Drive, from current owner Normandy Real Estate Partners LLC.
The town board on Aug. 24 approved a special use exemption permit for the project. Earlier this spring, the town board approved a zoning amendment to allow standalone retail in the teardrop region of the town, which is bounded by Interstate 287, the Hutchinson River Parkway and I-684.
Following demolition of the office buildings, the company plans to build a two-story grocery store with a cafe and 736 parking spaces, plus an additional 8,000-square-foot separate retail building on the 20-acre site. The entry road to the store will be converted to a roundabout.
The town has promoted the project as the latest step in an effort to retool older, underused office properties along it I-287 corridor, often referred to as the Platinum Mile. The vote was unanimous, with Mayor Ron Belmont asking a Wegmans’ official at the meeting if they’ll open in time for him to do his 2019 July 4th barbecue shopping.
“I can’t make any promises tonight,” Wegmans project manager Kim Goergen told the board.
She did tell the board that the company plans to invest more than $20 million into the project, and that the store will hire between 400 and 500 new employees, 180 full-timers.
The family-owned private company was founded in 1916. Wegmans 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.
While the majority of its New York stores are upstate, focused especially in Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo, the company is expanding its presence into the New York metropolitan region. Along with the Harrison location, Wegmans plans to open two New Jersey stores this year and a market in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard at an undetermined date.
The three Corporate Park Drive buildings, part of Normandy’s Exchange portfolio of office-park properties along I-287 in Harrison and White Plains, have an overall occupancy rate of about 2 percent, according to the application filed with the Harrison Planning Board.
Just two days before Wegmans got approval to tear down 106-110 Corporate Park Drive, Harrison officials were celebrating the teardown of another stretch of Normandy Real Estate office buildings on the same street. That was for the groundbreaking of Carraway, a 421-unit apartment project from national homebuilder Toll Brothers that will be built on the site of the former 103 and 105 Corporate Park Drive office buildings.
Following the Wegmans approval, Harrison’s redevelopment efforts were praised by Frank S. McCullough Jr., a senior partner at McCullough, Goldberger & Staudt LLP, which represented both Wegmans and Toll Brothers on the two projects. He said he counted 10 office buildings total in the town that have been converted to nonoffice uses.
He told the board, “Harrison is now recognized as, if not the leading community, one of the leading communities, in Westchester for repositioning and repurposing properties.”