Today’s news:

Little Neck Stop & Shop to fill supermarket void

Soon Little Neck and Douglaston residents will not have to travel to Bayside, Glen Oaks or Long Island to shop now that Stop & Shop plans to open up in the old Little Neck Grand Union.

Stop & Shop met with community residents late last year to discuss the possibility of opening a supermarket at the intersection of Marathon Parkway and Union Turnpike. After a tremendous response to the project, the chain announced last Thursday that it had decided to set up in the vacant space.

“We’re pleased to be able to make today’s announcement,” said Jim Sylvia, Stop & Shop vice president of real estate. “The site presents a number of unique operational and merchandising challenges for us, but we are committed to making it work for the consumer.”

The site has been shuttered since October 2000 after the cash-strapped Grand Union chain filed for bankruptcy. Even though Stop & Shop took over the majority of the Grand Union locations, the bankrupt chain sold the Little Neck site to a Manhasset realtor.

The closure of the store left residents in Little Neck, Douglaston and Douglas Manor north of the Long Island Expressway without a local supermarket.

Sylvia said the giant chain, which operates 321 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, saw the area’s need for a supermarket and was looking forward to “a long, productive working relationship with the community.” The chain employs more than 56,000 people.

He also thanked Borough President Helen Marshall, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside), the Little Neck Pines Association and the Douglaston Civic Association for their support of the project.

The 20,000-square-foot property, Sylvia said late last year, had a unique two-story layout, which would force the company to redesign the small space. In addition, the rundown condition of the site has forced the supermarket to completely gut the existing structure.

All of the design details are still being ironed out, but the initial preconstruction on the site has begun. There is no timeline on the expected completion of the project.

“I’ve reached out to the Stop & Shop and urged them to consider opening a store at this location,” Padavan said. “There is certainly a strong customer base in the area and a void was left when Grand Union went bankrupt.

“People in Little Neck need the convenience of a hometown supermarket,” he said. “I am certain that the whole community joins me in welcoming the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company.”

Jerry Iannece, chairman of Community Board 11, said residents were agitated when the Grand Union closed and nothing took its place. He said the community has responded favorably to a similar type of market moving in and he was glad to welcome the chain into the area.

“We are very excited to respond to the community’s needs,” said Kelly O’Connor, a spokeswoman for Stop & Shop.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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