Big Y: Future of Ansonia store uncertain

April 29, 2019

ANSONIA — While the signs outside the Big Y Supermarket downtown seek a tenant, the Massachusetts-based chain said no decision on that store’s future have been made.

“The landlord was preemptive in putting this out,” Claire D’Amoro-Daly, Big Y’s vice president of corporate communications, said Monday. “He jumped the gun. We have made no decision and are still weighing all options on that location.”

Friday, city officials and Alan Schwartz, whose Glen Equities owns the shopping center, said a new tenant is being sought for the 65,000 square foot space.

Big Y has anchored the shopping center since it opened in 1996. The center also includes Bob’s, a clothing and footwear store and Marshal’s/Home Goods.

For the past two, years Big Y has been renovating a former Walmart store on New Haven Avenue in Derby into a Big Y World Class Market. The company hopes to open that store in November.

The sign seeking a new tenant was the impetus for word that the local supermarket was closing.

D’Amoro-Daly said there are still three and a half years left on the store’s lease in the Ansona Plaza Shopping Center, 403 Main St. She also said the recent Stop and Shop strike closing brought new customers into the local Big Y stores.

“We are in constant contact with the owners who conveyed similar information all along, but they indicated recently that they were working to secure a new tenant,” said Sheila O’Malley, the city’s economic development director. “It may be that Big Y is waiting to see how that market will do. We continue to work with the owners to assist in any way that we can with anyone wishing to come to that Plaza. Ultimately it will be the tenant’s decision.”

However she said she was encouraged by Big Y’s saying they have not yet reached a decision on the site.

“They have been a great neighbor and wonderful employer, and we hope they stay,” O’Malley said. “The city remains committed to the owner, tenants and the residents. I think the stores and restaurants that line Main Street demonstrate they believe in our downtown.”

The new World Class Markets opening on Route 34 in Derby and the Boston Post Road in Milford mean “we don’t anticipate any job losses” regardless of whether the Ansonia store’s tenancy is short or long-lived, she said.

The Ansonia store is about three and a half miles from the new Derby location and about four miles from the Big Y World Class Market on Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton.

Rumors of the Ansonia store closing have been around since October 2017 when Big Y completed a major renovation at the Ansonia store and then announced plans to open in Derby.

On Friday, several shoppers said the loss of the downtown Ansonia store would be a hardship for the people who walk to the store as well as the new downtown tenants the city is hoping to lure into apartments.

“We love the convenience of a grocer along Main Street,” O’Malley said Monday. “It’s easy and accessible for our residents and neighboring communities, but retail is also always a good option.”

“Everybody needs to be patient,” Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti said Friday. “If there is a change, Alan Schwartz has assured me he’ll have someone in there. We are working with him. A new supermarket would fit in perfectly there.”

Schwartz did not respond immediately to an email for comment Monday.