Developer seeks OK to build food store
   Jean Falbo-Sosnovich, Register Correspondent     August 21, 2000

DERBY ó A Norwalk developer has applied to the Planning and Zoning Commission for permission to build a Shop Rite supermarket on the site of the vacant Valley Shopping Center on Pershing Drive.

The PZC formally accepted an application from Grade A Supermarket for a 72,000-square-foot store to be built in the shell of the former shopping center. The retail center at one time contained Bradlees and Woolworth department stores, Video Galaxy, Towne Squire Diner and a Stop & Shop supermarket. 

The commission voted to waive a public hearing on the application, said Community Development Director Rick Dunne, because the use of the building will not change. 

"By waiving the public hearing, it puts the project on a fast track," Dunne said. "Over the next two weeks, the developer will be submitting more detailed plans for the commissionís review." 

The developer will have to address in its plans how the now sloping parking lot will be graded, especially to prevent shopping cart accidents, and signage, he said. 

The proposed sign for Shop Rite currently exceeds the commissionís regulations for size, and that will be addressed in the next two weeks, Dunne added. 

Rocco Cingari, president of Grade A Supermarket, announced in June he plans to invest about $15 million to renovate the shopping center, which has become one of the cityís biggest eyesores. 

Overgrown grass and weeds fill the parking lot on the 9.5-acre site and smashed windows are boarded up. 

Cingari said space not occupied by the supermarket is expected to be rented to at least six other businesses, with whom he is negotiating. 

He said he wants to open the supermarket by next summer. 

The store is expected to employ up to 350 people. 

A B.J.ís Wholesale Club is also moving into the city, to a 13-acre tract on Division Street. 

The discount warehouse store is expected to generate between 100 to 140 new jobs. 

The two new stores, coupled with the Wal-Mart being built in the former Caldor Shopping Plaza on New Haven Avenue, and a new Home Depot on Route 34, are expected to put an additional $40 million on the cityís grand list of taxable property, Dunne said.