By Phil Corso
It may be months later than anticipated, but Korean supermarket H Mart should be stocked and ready to open in Bayside by the summer, a spokesman for the chain said.
The grocery store signed on to replace the former Waldbaum’s near the intersection of 47th Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard last year and should open its doors by July.
“The people at our headquarters found out about the new location early this year,” a spokesman for H Mart told TimesLedger Newspapers. “A good date would be in June, and we are looking forward to meeting that date.”
The chain store announced plans to move into the former Waldbaum’s spot back in June, before the location closed for good by summer’s end, costing 77 workers their jobs.
Community leaders had originally anticipated H Mart’s arrival could come as early as September 2012, but the supermarket chain said it had been working on securing building permits and construction plans since the fall.
When Waldbaum’s announced its plans to close last year, Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said he expected a quick turnaround as the storefront transformed into H Mart. The chairman said residents were on the fence when they heard news of the new chain moving into the area, although he was still glad to see the location used.
“When people heard another supermarket will replace Waldbaum’s, they were happy, but with mixed reviews,” Iannece said when the store announced its closing in June. “I am just happy that we won’t be seeing an empty storefront there.”
District Manager Susan Seinfeld said H Mart was a good fit for the northeast Queens community, adding it would barely interfere at all with Bayside’s shopping patterns while also catering to a strong Korean population.
The American-based chain is owned by the Hanahreum Group, of Lyndhurst, N.J., and has stores throughout the country.
The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., which is based in Montvale, N.J., and owns Waldbaum’s, has a history of financial woes in recent years and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors in 2010. A company spokeswoman said it had closed one of its Pathmark grocery stores on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City in August.
Back in November 2011, a Fairway supermarket opened in Douglaston after a strong effort from community and city officials, including Iannece, City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and state Sens. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside). At that time, Iannece said it was the community’s top priority to bring the high-end chain into Queens as grocery store closures were indicators of a weak economy.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.