Ballston residents want to buy food near home
Officials pushing grocers to consider development
BALLSTON Ballston developer Frank Rossi is getting some unexpected help in the search for a tenant for his newly approved building site on routes 50 and 67 just south of Ballston Spa.
Ballston Town Councilman Tim Szczepaniak has penned seven letters to the presidents of grocery store chains letting them know the town is ready and anxious for a food outlet.
It’s been exactly a month since Rossi and his wife, Rose Marie, were granted approval for development of up to 269,000 square feet of warehouse and retail space on land that is currently vacant but has roads and other infrastructure ready for further development.
Szczepaniak’s correspondence was done on his own initiative, he said, without consulting Rossi or Ballston Supervisor Patti Southworth.
“I sent the letter a week ago but I haven’t heard back from any of them yet,” Szczepaniak said Wednesday. “If I get a response, I will immediately forward it to Mr. Rossi’s broker.”
The broker, Thomas Savino, said he wasn’t aware of Szczepaniak’s correspondence, but he welcomes any assistance he can get in finding a business for his client.
“Any help is a help,” Savino said. “It’s a refreshing position to a certain extent as it relates to what other municipalities do or don’t do to help locate new business.”
Although he has been communicating with several potential clients for the property, he said he had nothing to report as of Wednesday.
Southworth has also spoken with representatives of three grocery store chains, she said Wednesday, acknowledging she was not previously aware of Szczepaniak’s correspondence.
“I am somewhat concerned that [Szczepaniak’s letter] could make us look like our community is not working together and it could give hesitation to a business thinking about locating here,” Southworth said.
Southworth is a Democrat running for a third term in the fall election. Szczepaniak is a Republican running for his second term.
The two have clashed in the past over what both sides call a lack of communication among board members along party lines.
On Wednesday they each said they were looking out for the residents of Ballston who greatly need a grocery store. There are no grocery stores in town.
“I don’t want to miss a golden opportunity,” Szczepaniak said. “Especially for our senior citizens who can’t or don’t want to drive great distances to buy their groceries. Town residents have to travel to Malta, Clifton Park or Saratoga to find fresh produce, meats and other products.”
The Rossis plan to develop the land between the McDonald’s and Trustco Bank and submitted drawings for a 137,000-square-foot, L-shaped building to house an anchor store and four to 10 smaller stores, but the designs could change when a specific client or clients state their desires.
The remaining 132,000 square feet to be constructed would be for warehouse space, which includes offices or light manufacturing, Rossi said.