|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SIXTEEN ACRES Next year, the Big Y is going to return to the shopping plaza at the corner of Wilbraham Road and Parker Street where it used to operate a supermarket; however, it won't be under the familiar name.
The western Massachusetts grocery chain announced Oct. 18 at the meeting of the Sixteen Acres Civic Association that it has signed a long-term lease for its former location and will open"Fresh Acres Market" in seven or eight months.
Frank Horacek, director of real estate for Big Y, told the audience of about 100 people that details for the 30,000 square-foot store are still in development, but he did share the concepts of the new store.
The front of the store will feature large glass doors, which will be open at least 10 months of the year. That area will house fresh produce with an emphasis on local produce in season.
Beyond the farmers' market area, there will be a "meals solutions center," which Horacek said will feature "restaurant quality take-out" meals. There will also be a full-service deli, an on-site bakery and meat and seafood departments.
He added there would also be special food sections for "the adventurous cook."
The grocery section will feature a "simplified assortment," and Horacek said the goal is to create a store in which shoppers can get what they need quickly.
He stressed that it will not be a "down-sized Big Y."
"This is a whole new concept, nothing exists like it in Springfield at this time," he said.
One resident asked Horacek whether or not the new market will carry beer and wine, since the neighborhood recently lost a major liquor store. He said that the grocery chain already owns the three licenses the state allows, and at this time, unless laws are changed, there are not plans for beer and wine.
Horacek told Reminder Publications that he could not predict how many jobs the new market would create and, even though the company has not yet finished its plans, he anticipated that the new store would represent an investment "in excess of a couple of million dollars."
Horacek declined to describe the new store as a pilot project and said that at this time there are no plans to replicate the concept elsewhere. He said Fresh Acres Market is a "recognition of what's going on in the marketplace."
"A commodity people don't have today is time," he added. The new market will emphasize convenience.
The Big Y operated a full-service grocery at the location until 2003.