Fairway needs waiver for Douglaston store

Construction on the incoming Fairway Markets at the old Waldbaum's site in Douglaston could begin next month.
By Anna Gustafson

Construction work on the Fairway Markets project in Douglaston could begin as early as next month, provided city officials approve a request to place signs at the site that are larger than what the zoning currently allows for, Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said Monday.

“Once they break ground, they would probably open in the summer time,” Iannece said.

CB 11 unanimously approved a variance for Fairway to install larger signs on the site at 242-02 61st Ave. in Douglaston during their meeting last week, and now the upscale food chain needs only to get the go-ahead from the city Board of Standards and Appeals before construction can commence. Fairway representatives who attended last week’s meeting told CB 11 that they expect to receive the variance from the BSA by the end of the month, allowing them to break ground in February.

“Everybody wants it,” Iannece said of Fairway. “Everything I hear about Fairway is they’re first-class, that they have gourmet food as well as low-priced items.”

Iannece said the Fairway is especially needed at that location because there are no nearby grocery stores. Waldbaum’s was once there, but closed last February. It had been originally scheduled to open earlier this year, but the date was pushed back after its plans stalled with the BSA.

Douglaston residents have agreed with Iannece that Fairway Markets, which could not be reached for comment, is a more-than-welcome addition to the neighborhood. Community residents said the store will provide welcome relief for many of those living in the area, especially seniors, who are often forced to walk up to one mile to Stop & Shop, which is the closest market to the Fairway site, or take a cab.

“It’s critical,” Douglaston Civic Association President Elliot Socci said. “There are hundreds, even thousands, of people who are directly affected by the absence of a food store in that location.”

The store is expected to create 300 new union jobs in Douglaston.

This will be the first Fairway in Queens. There are also Fairway stores on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, Harlem, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut.

Fairway has a wide variety of merchandise, including cheeses, organic coffees, bakery goods and other grocery items, according to the company’s website.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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