Expansion proposal is news to supermarket’s owners
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | February 15,2013
MANCHESTER — A local engineering firm has submitted a proposal for redeveloping a shopping plaza on Depot Street and expanding Price Chopper, but officials at Price Chopper said Thursday they know nothing about the proposal and didn’t request it.
The Development Review Board is scheduled to hear a proposal Wednesday for redevelopment of the Manchester Shopping Center Plaza.
In a letter that accompanied a preliminary site plan, Ellis Speath, of Speath Engineering in Manchester, said the proposal would involve demolition of 21,200 square feet of building space in the plaza. The plaza is now roughly L-shaped but the proposal would add about 20,700 square feet straight out to the northwest.
The proposed development would add about 14,300 square feet of space to the existing Price Chopper supermarket and leave about 6,400 square feet for other uses.
The letter said the proposal would add 50 parking spaces, giving the plaza more than 190 spaces, and improve the circulation and the ease with which trucks can be unloaded.
Speath said that if the plan was approved as proposed, it would double the size of the supermarket.
However, Mona Golub, a spokeswoman for Price Chopper, said the plan was not made on behalf of Price Chopper and the company’s officials have not seen them.
“Price Chopper has no plans to expand the Manchester store,” she said.
Golub said she believed the plan may have been created at the request of a prospective buyer for the shopping plaza. Staff at Speath Engineering said on Thursday they couldn’t comment on whose behalf they submitted the proposal.
Town records list the owner of the plaza as Manchester Holdco S.C. LLC. No contact information could be found for the owner on Thursday afternoon.
As submitted, the redevelopment of the plaza would not affect stores to the east of Price Chopper but would remove the businesses to the west. One of those is Manchester’s only movie theater, the Village Picture Shows.
The theater’s owners, Shelly and Jeff Gibson, have started a campaign through online crowd-funding site Kickstarter to raise $175,000 and update the movie theater to install digital equipment.
Shelly Gibson said Thursday the proposal was “all new” to her. She said she had only heard about it within the last day and her husband Jeff was calling around and trying to get more information.
However, she pointed out she and Jeff had no intention of disappointing the community, which had shown “outrageous” support for the Village Picture Show and pledged about $145,000.
“We have no intention of leaving and we know the community has no intention of us leaving,” she said.
While Price Chopper officials have no involvement in the proposed expansion, there have been other efforts to provide Manchester with a bigger grocery store.
In 2008, Price Chopper filed a proposal to build a new 40,000-square-foot store at the High Ridge Plaza on Route 7A. At the Manchester Shopping Plaza, Price Chopper occupies about 17,000 square feet and uses about 9,000 square feet for retail purposes.
The plan was strongly opposed by residents, primarily people who lived on or near Hillvale Drive and Mountainview Terrace.
Price Chopper asked the town to put the proposal on hold in 2009, and in 2011 Golub said the store would stay at its present location through at least 2018 through a multi-year lease.