Fairway plan stalled at Douglaston Plaza

By Nathan Duke

A Fairway Market chain store that has been proposed to replace Waldbaum’s at the Douglaston Plaza Shopping Center is coming along more slowly than anticipated and might not open until 2010, an attorney for the market said.

Plans for the market, to be located at 242−02 61st Ave. in Douglaston, have been approved by Bayside’s Community Board 11 and Borough President Helen Marshall. But the proposal has stalled with the city Board of Standards and Appeals, which must next approve the project before it can go before the City Council for a vote, said Jeffrey Chester, an attorney who represents the high−end supermarket chain.

“It’s taking us longer to get a hearing with the BSA than I’d expected due to bureaucratic delay,” he said. “I’ve heard people saying that Fairway has abandoned its plan, but that’s not true. We’re still moving forward.”

The market filed its plans with the city in October and received a response last month. Chester said the market’s operators are hoping the proposal will receive a hearing in April and that construction can soon be underway.

Fairway had originally planned to open the market at the Douglaston site this fall, but will now likely open it early next year, Chester said. Waldbaum’s lease expires in spring 2010.

The chain’s main store is on Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and the fabled flagship draws patrons from all over Manhattan because of its comprehensive selection of groceries.

Chester said Fairway would need six months to perform renovations before the market could open. The chain originally proposed opening a 51,000−square−foot market, but Fairway has now asked for an additional 5,000 square feet.

“There wouldn’t be more retail aisles but more preparation area,” Chester said. “Fairway does a lot of food preparation work — they roast their own coffee, bake their own bread, keep a large inventory of cheeses on hand and have their own butcher operation, one kosher and one non−kosher.”

Eliott Socci, president of the Douglaston Civic Association, said the community overwhelmingly supports the construction of the new market. But he said its top priority is to make sure that a new market takes the place of Waldbaum’s after its store closes at the shopping center.

“Everyone wants to see this happen, especially before there is a forced absence of a supermarket,” he said. “If nobody moves in, there is a big hole in service.”

He said there are smaller grocery stores, including a Stop & Shop, in the neighborhood and a few markets in Bayside. But he said the residents of several communities, such as Deep Dale Gardens or Beech Hills co−ops, could be left without a market if Waldbaum’s closing and Fairway’s opening are not well−coordinated.

The proposed hours of operation for the market are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fairway owner Howard Glickberg said. The Douglaston site would create 300 new union jobs, he said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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