Cheshire mixed-use project could get Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods

A long-dormant Cheshire commercial property located near the intersection of two major Connecticut highways is coming to life with residential development likely to attract a national supermarket chain to the site, according to a city-based retail consultant. from New York.

Officials from Eastpointe, a Fairfield developer, have submitted plans to the Cheshire Zoning and Planning Commission for a 300-unit apartment complex to be built within Stone Bridge Crossing. The 107-acre mixed-use development is located near the intersection of Interstates 691 and 84, as well as the main entrance of Route 10,

If approved by the city’s PZC, it would join a project of terraced houses that a Southbury-based developer started building earlier this year near the Cheshire border with Southington.

A Massachusetts-based developer, W/S Development, first floated the idea of ​​a large on-property lifestyle center in 2008. W/S would later change its plans to a shopping center before scrapping them altogether in July. from 2015.

The two residential developments that are part of Stone Bridge Crossing are expected to generate interest in the commercial component of the development. And at the center of that development is the tenant of a planned grocery store that, according to a well-known New York retail consultant, is likely to be a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods supermarket.

City officials decline to comment on who that tenant might be. Dan Zelson, director of Westport-based Charter Development, said he couldn’t comment on specific tenants.

“But we’re making great progress with a fantastic number of national and local tenants,” Zelson said.

Burt Flickinger, CEO of Strategic Resource Group, said it’s likely Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

“Connecticut still has a significantly low number of stores as far as supermarkets go,” Flickinger said. “To me, this is a race between Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to see who gets to the best commercial space first. Access to highways.”

Trader Joe’s “is looking to fill the holes it has in New Haven County, as well as much of the Interstate 95 corridor from New Haven to Boston,” he said.

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“They have stores in Danbury and in West Hartford,” Flickinger said. “Having a store in Cheshire would split the distance between those two stores along I-84. And it’s way beyond the five-mile radius that Trader’s Joe’s has in terms of providing their stores with at least a single shopping area of five miles.”

Officials at Texas-based Whole Foods, which is owned by tech giant Amazon, were not immediately available for comment.

The California-based supermarket chain has eight stores in Connecticut, but Orange is its only location in New Haven County.

“Trader Joe’s is completely saturated in Fairfield County, but has room to expand in both New Haven and Hartford counties as well as southeastern Connecticut,” Flickinger said. Currently, the chain’s only stores in Hartford County are in Manchester and Corbin’s Corner in West Hartford.

Nakia Rohde, a spokeswoman for Trader Joe’s, said the chain “looks at a lot of locations.”

“All locations that will be opening soon are listed on our website,” Rohde said. “Unfortunately Cheshire is not on the list at this time.”

Cheshire has an ordinance that limits commercial development to 50,000 square feet or less. Charter Development’s online leasing information has the two largest commercial spaces in Stone Bridge Crossing, one at 23,000 square feet and one at 22,000 square feet.

The 22,000-square-foot space is listed on Stone Bridge Crossing’s website as leased, while a larger space was listed as still available. Charter Development officials were not immediately available Thursday to answer questions about the retail portion of the project.

Flickinger said the smaller space is more in line with the Trader Joe’s location than Whole Foods.

He said Whole Food scrapped its 365 experimental locations, which were supposed to deliver the chain’s high-end groceries at a lower cost. But Flickinger said the company is still experimenting with fully automated locations and stores.

“Whole Foods seems to have figured out their new format this time,” he said. The 365 store concept launched in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles in 2016, but Whole Foods scrapped the entire concept in 2019.

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“Whole Foods already has stores that are as small as 25,000 square feet, so I’m sure they can handle something a little smaller,” Flickinger said.

Whole Foods is currently working with Charter Development on the construction of a new store in South Windsor’s Evergreen Crossing lifestyle center and Flickinger said, adding, “Whole Foods likes to stick with the same developer, when they find one that likes”.

“They like to stick with a winner and Charter definitely fits that category,” Flickinger said.

Plans also call for the construction of a hotel and gas station/convenience store as part of Stone Bridge Crossing. Charter’s website lists the hotel as “under contract and the gas station/convenience store as already leased.”

Cheshire developer Mike Glidden said plans for the Eastpointe apartment complex will be formally read into the record Monday night with a public hearing scheduled for Oct. 24.

Construction on the townhomes, which is called The Reserve at Stone Bridge, began earlier this year. The developer of the project is Southbury-based EGHome, and the models are expected to be available for prospective buyers to visit early next year, although sales will start this fall.

Information on The Reserve at Stone Bridge website has townhomes with two-car tandem garages priced from $400,000. Carriage homes, with a master suite on the main floor, start in the high $500,000 range.

When asked which grocery store chain will enter Stone Bridge Crossing, Glidden said “we’ve heard a lot of things, but we can’t really comment.”

“I guess you’ll see the gas station/convenience store built first,” he said. “Once they have a bunch of anchors in place and they’re ready to build, it could really come off the ground at a rapid rate. But everyone is waiting to see that first residential roof right now.”

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