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Trader Joe’s coming to Albany?

Trader Joe’s official response to whether one of its specialty grocery stores is coming to the Albany, New York, area has changed from six months ago.

In June, a spokeswoman told The Business Review the Albany area “is not in our two-year plan of opening locations.”

Now, the same spokeswoman, Alison Mochizuki, has a different answer to the question.

“At this time we don’t have anything to confirm as far as location,” Mochizuki said. “However, if anything changes, I’ll let you know.”

The company has been scouting sites in the area.

“We had talked to them,” said Ken Brownell, co-principal of Vanguard-Fine LLC, a commercial real estate broker whose clients include Wolf Road Shoppers Park in Colonie. “They were looking at other sites. We were told they are all set in Albany.”

Trader Joe’s has a legion of devoted fans that rave about its unique products, low prices, and counter-culture atmosphere. A grassroots group, We Want Trader Joe’s in the Capital District, has been trying to lure the retailer to Albany for four years.

There has been speculation the company may be coming to the former OfficeMax at 79 Wolf Road in Colonie.

Renovations are underway to convert the 22,782-square-foot building into three storefronts, including one that is about 12,500 square feet, according to building permit applications filed with the town of Colonie.

That size fits within the typical footprint of a Trader Joe’s, which vary from 10,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet, Mochizuki said. The company has 336 stores nationally; the closest to Albany is in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Columbia Development Cos., one of the area’s biggest developers, did not identify any of the tenants planned for 79 Wolf Road in documents filed with the town. The proposed use identified in the applications is “continued retail/mercantile.”

Colonie Building Department Manager Dave JoJo said Columbia Development will have to disclose the names of the tenants when it seeks permits for each of the three storefronts.

The estimated cost of the interior fit-up is $300,000.

Marc Goldstein, director of real estate at Columbia Development, did not return calls for comment.

Some of the contractors working at the site on behalf of BBL Construction Services LLC said they did not know what tenants are planned.

The building is owned by T&R Family United Partnership in Alexandria, Virginia.

Patrick Coughlin, a representative of the partnership, said they are still trying to fill the space.

Asked whether Trader Joe’s is coming to the building, Coughlin said, “I don’t know anything about that.”


SOURCE: The Business Review

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