The era of the big box store has faded, as store owners are now proposing to establish several smaller stores in large retail buildings that once held single tenants.
Two most recent examples are the former Sports Authority building on the north side of Route 58 and the soon-to-close Edwards Sports Center building, which has sat at the intersection of East Main Street and Route 25 for 64 years. Edwards owners Diane and Ron McGee told The News-Review in September that they planned to retire from the family business, which they’ve run since 1971.
The Sports Authority building, which opened in Riverhead in 2006 adjacent to Target, was built by Serota Properties of Valley Stream. It closed in 2016 after Sports Authority went bankrupt nationwide.
The owners of that building told town officials recently that they plan to divide the 45,000-square-foot space into three smaller stores. A Planet Fitness and a Dollar Tree are already planned for the location, but a third tenant has not yet been identified.
Planet Fitness has an existing Riverhead location on Kroemer Avenue, and it’s unclear if it would move from that location or expand to a second site in the former Sports Authority. The nearest Dollar Tree store, where everything sells for $1, is located in Hampton Bays.
Meanwhile, the Edwards Sports Center building was sold in September to Bapa Realty Inc., headed by Ashok “Alan” Patel.
Mr. Patel’s family has owned the Hallmark Cards and Gifts store next to Gala Fresh Market for about 20 years and Riverhead Stationery on East Main Street for about 10 years.
Mr. Patel said he plans to divide Edwards building into four smaller retail and office storefronts and hopes to get nationally known franchises.
“Something like Starbucks,” he said.