WP/Burke Ave. merchants try to lure supermarket

A vacant building at 3135 White Plains Road (above) could become a new supermarket, but red tape over the amount of parking spaces needed at the site is holding up the process. - Photo by Walter Pofeldt

Red tape is holding up the process of a newly formed merchants group from attempting to replace a lost supermarket with a Fine Fair.

According to community leaders, the slow loss of independent pharmacies, supermarkets, hardware stores and other quality businesses out of the community has hurt the shopping strip near Burke Avenue and White Plains Road.

A new CVS pharmacy, which will soon take the place of a Pioneer Supermarket at White Plains Road and Burke Avenue, leaves area residents concerned that a lack of a local supermarket will negatively impact the community.

“The Pioneer Supermarket was profitable, but the landlord felt he could command a higher rent from CVS,” Community Board 12 district manager Carmen Rosa said.

“We are getting back a pharmacy at the expense of a supermarket,” said George Martin, president of the Olinville Taxpayers and Civic Association. “The nearest supermarkets we have are on Allerton Avenue or further north on White Plains Road. We would much rather people shop inside of the local area instead of going elsewhere.”

With that in mind, the community has approached Carlos Colado, who operates other well-run supermarkets in the area, asking him to bring a Fine Fair to the location.  

Likely, Fine Fair’s owner will have to apply for a zoning variance for the building he’s already renting, a former social security office at 3315 White Plains Road, between the intersections of Rosewood Avenue and E. 213 Street.

According to new zoning resolutions in the Olinville area, the property lacks the requisite amount of parking necessary to accommodate customers. According to Martin, Colado has 12 and needs approximately double the amount.  Residents are hopeful that this number will be waived.  

The lack of a close-by supermarket falls most heavily on the elderly, who cannot travel far to buy groceries.

“Elderly and frail people have no place to shop for food,” said Sr. Noreen Perelli, of Immaculate Conception Church. “We have plenty of pharmacies. They have a place to go when they are sick, but nowhere to go when they are hungry.”

The OTCA has formed the Burke Avenue/White Plains Road Merchants Association, with an eye toward revitalizing the shopping strip, and a primary objective of getting back a supermarket.

Martin, OTCA vice-president Effius Matthews, and others in the community are confident that everything will work out in the end.

“The gentleman [Colado] who has responded to the community’s needs has other supermarkets in the area that are assets,” Rosa explained. “I don’t foresee him having any problems getting a variance since he is acting on a request from the community.”

Carlos Colado has not returned calls as of press time. 

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