A pair of new restaurants coming to former Walmart lot?

03/24/2015 8:00 AM |

Riverhead Plaza

The company that owns Riverhead Plaza — home to the former Walmart — has submitted a new site plan for the property.

But the site plan isn’t for the the former Walmart building; it’s for the parking lot along Route 58. 

Riverhead PGC, a subsidiary of Manhattan-based Philips International, has submitted a preliminary site plan seeking to build two restaurant pads in the northern portion of parking lot of the 22-acre property, in between Firestore and the entrance off Route 58, and just north of King Kullen.

The plans show a proposed 6,300-square foot restaurant just east of Firestone, and a proposed 2,600-square foot restaurant with a drive-through window just east of that.

Charles Cuddy, the attorney for the applicant, said they are hoping to attract more customers to the shopping center by building the new restaurants closer to Route 58.

The property is zoned for “Shopping Center” use and restaurants are permitted in that zone.

An online sales brochure on Philips International’s website, touting the proposed restaurants, says there are “21,000 cars per day” on Old Country Road (Route 58).

“Old Country Road is heavily trafficked, and built up with a variety of retail and commercial uses that attract both local and commuter traffic to the neighborhood,” the brochure states.

The applicants have not indicated what type of restaurants are planned, Mr. Cuddy said.

Walmart had been the anchor tenant in Riverhead Plaza since 2001, when it replaced Caldor, which went out of business nationally in 1999. Prior to that, the site housed other large department stores like Woolco and Grants.

But Walmart moved to a new facility further west on Route 58 in Jan. 2014, and its prior site has been vacant ever since.

Philips International — which did not return a call seeking comment — is still advertising the Walmart space, which is 120,000 square feet and has 1,483 parking spaces.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said he tried to convince Regal Cinemas to build a multiplex there a few years ago, but they weren’t interested.

In recent years, Route 58 development has been focused on the western end of the road, near Tanger Outlers, where Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, and several other large chain stores have joined Walmart.

Other stores, like Waldbaum’s and Peconic Bay Motors, also have moved from the eastern portion of Route 58 to the western part.

The application for the two new restaurant pads has yet to be discussed before the Riverhead Planning Board, which has jurisdiction over the site plan. Mr. Cuddy said the application also will need a number of zoning variances from the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals.

The preliminary site plan application lists nine zoning variances that the application will need, including variances on the number of parking spaces it will need.

While the site seemingly has an endless supply of parking, the overall number of parking spaces required takes into account all of the stores in Riverhead Plaza, Mr. Cuddy said.

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