OLD SAYBROOK – Upscale supermarket chain Whole Foods signed a lease for a space in a shopping plaza at the corner of Spencer Plain and Boston Post roads, the development group that owns the property confirmed on Monday.
Joe Pierik, vice president of retail leasing and acquisitions at Rhode Island-based Carpionato Group said the company consummated a lease with Whole Foods about a month ago for the grocer to occupy a 40,000 square-foot retail space at 1654 Boston Post Road – in the shopping plaza that houses NAPA Auto Parts and Alforno Trattoria.
Currently the closest Whole Foods stores to Old Saybrook are about 40 minutes away in Milford and Glastonbury, and there are none along I-95 between Milford and Providence.
Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna said he was happy to see investment coming to the plaza that once housed Benny’s, saying the plaza was in need of an injection of funds to make it look more like the town wants it to look.
“Those folks have marketing departments that have figured out that this area is enough of a draw to support them,” Fortuna said. “Obviously, they must feel that it’s a different market than Big Y, so they feel they are going to thrive in that area.”
The Whole Foods and investment into that plaza also fits in with the rest of the redevelopment of the west side of town, he said.
The Spencer Plain Road has seen a wave of activity. The same plaza had a zoning application approved to reduce parking limits and allow the existing retail space to be expanded, and the Max’s Place plaza across Boston Post Road had a zoning change approved that would allow Big Y to build a gas station.
On the land between Max’s Place Plaza and I-95, another developer is seeking approval for a new shopping center with a 20,000 square-foot grocery store, a drive-thru fast food restaurant and a drive-thru coffee shop. And the intersection will receive a boost from a $1.4 million sidewalk project Old Saybrook recently received state funds to complete.
Fortuna said he also thinks it’s a positive for Old Saybrook to expand its reach as a retail hub to further shoreline towns. He cautioned that he didn’t want to get too far ahead of himself, since the business would still need to gain zoning approval.
“Old Saybrook is very much the hub of the shoreline because of its location at (Route) 9 and 95 – it’s easy on, easy off,” Fortuna said. “It’ll continue to draw people into our town from a further radius than I think people used to come to town. I think the same thing has happened with some of the new businesses in our downtown, where we’re expanding the reach of the town to more than just our neighboring shoreline towns, and people will be coming here from a little bit further afield.”
A flier on the Carpionato Group website shows the company is still looking to lease out three properties in the plaza: a 2,396 square foot drive-thru restaurant space, a 7,500 square foot retail space, and a 22,600 square foot retail space that can be divided.
The group advertises the plaza’s location in the “affluent Old Saybrook community,” with average household incomes of $116,504 and access to I-95.