Former Stratfield Market sold to Greenwich group
Updated 9:55 am, Thursday, April 20, 2017
FAIRFIELD — The sale of the former Stratfield Market building at 1280 Stratfield Road has residents hopeful that the shuttered grocery store will become a thriving part of the neighborhood.
Neighbors successfully defeated a plan for a Walgreen’s to open on the site, and got a zoning change adopted that prevents chain stores from opening in design neighborhood districts. The protracted legal battle began in 2006 and ended in 2011. Walgreen’s still holds a 20-year lease on the property. Urstadt-Biddle did not respond to a request for comment, but McCusker said Willing Biddle, president and CEO, has been in touch with the association.
“Wing Biddle reached out to us when he was in talks to buy it last year,” McCusker said.
McCusker said he and his co-president, Dylan O’Connor, and former SVA president Julie DeMarco, met with Biddle. “We kind of gave them a history of the Stratfield Market, and where the neighborhood is now.”
McCusker said a survey of Stratfield neighbors showed overwhelming support for a grocery store there.
“We relayed that to Wing, and he’s in talks with two different parties that would put a grocery store back in place,” he said. McCusker said if that isn’t possible, Biddle said he would be back to talk to the SVA about other options.
The zoning amendment adopted in the wake of the Walgreen’s fight could prove a sticking point for a grocery store since it prohibits chain stores. Urstadt-Biddle’s portfolio includes several large shopping centers that feature national chains like Michael’s and Old Navy.
McCusker said there are still about 12 years left on the Walgreen’s lease, and Urstadt-Biddle is “having conversations about a sublease, or some sort of solution.” He said he’s been told Walgreen’s is no longer interested in opening a store at the Stratfield property.
“We’re taking this all as a very good first step,” McCusker said, adding the neighborhood group had previously reached out to Samuel Lotstein, trying to get permission to run a farmer’s market in the parking lot or allow pop-up shops, to no avail.
“They were happy to let the building sit there and deteriorate, and throw paint on it once a year, and collect the rent,” McCusker said.
A day care center, Child’s World Academy, abandoned its plans in 2014 to open a day care center there when they said Lotstein was unwilling to pay for the remediation of asbestos and PCBs.