Shoppers in the Douglaston area are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new Fairway supermarket in the Douglaston Plaza Mall, now that the Waldbaums that occupied the space since 1975 has closed down.
The developer, AAC Douglaston Plaza, LLC, a unit of Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, had sought to replace the grocer with a higher-margin Best Buy electronics store as early as 2007 – nearly three years before Waldbaums’ lease expired – claiming the size of the store and a fair-market rent would keep such a low-margin business as a supermarket out of the site.
The Manhattan-based development giant that acquired over $4 billion in commercial properties since its founding in 1987 ran into implacable opposition from Community Board (CB) 11, which noted for the record that the zoning that allowed the mall to exist only allowed a supermarket in the Waldbaums location.
The company, which bought the mall, located at Douglaston Parkway and 61st Avenue, from Yale University in 2005 for a reported $65 million, finally withdrew its application to change the “use group,” and found Fairway Market interested in the site.
Representatives from Fairway, with a reputation for high-quality produce and a wide selection of products and prepared foods made a presentation at CB11 and were very well received.
Their request to add space – and a second request for even more space when their first plan proved insufficient to their needs – sailed through CB 11 with little or no opposition.
Nevertheless, the incoming supermarket chain will do extensive work at the location, to include adding roughly 15,000 square feet of storage and processing space – and installing an elevator to the mid-level parking area.
This is seen as not only a good move for shoppers who drive, but also for those who live nearby and walk to market.