Big Y plans to build gas station /express store next to Pittsfield location


This story has been modified to clarify that a quote from the board chairwoman reflected her support for the revised design of the building.

PITTSFIELD -- Big Y's partnership with the owner of a convenience store chain could lead to a second "Big Y Express" opening next to its supermarket on West Street.

Big Y Foods Inc. and F.L. Roberts & Co. Inc., both family-owned Springfield-based companies, want to duplicate the success of their first food and fuel business they opened together in Lee last December.

"I think it's going well ... it has exceeded our expectations," said Frank Roberts, vice president of wholesale for F.L. Roberts.

On Tuesday night, Big Y cleared its first regulatory hurdle with the city as the Pittsfield Community Development Board approved the site plan for the project and recommended the City Council support a special permit for the project.

Board Chairwoman Sheila B. Irvin said she supported the revised design for the building.

"Personally, I think it's an improvement ... as this is a gateway area [to the city]," she said.

If the council backs the permit request at its Sept. 2 meeting, the proposal returns to the board for final approval.

Big Y plans to construct the 1,500-square-foot convenience store on a vacant lot at 202 West St. The supermarket chain bought the half-acre parcel in 2012 and the 25,000 square-foot building that once housed a retail store for Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires. Big Y demolished the building to initially expand its supermarket parking and allow delivery trucks better access to the loading docks.

While the Lee store opened in an extensively renovated, former gas/service station, the developers have flexibility with the design of the Pittsfield Big Y Express, according to project engineer James Scalice of S K Design.

The similarities between the two include concept and proximity. As in Lee, F.L. Roberts will be the operating partner and fuel supplier, while Big Y will provide snack, grocery and ready-to-eat items, along with many of its private-label products.

The Lee store is also around the corner from the Big Y supermarket that opened November 2011 on Route 102, the proposed Pittsfield location is next door to the West Street supermarket.

"They being adjacent [to the supermarkets] is very important as it allows us to tie in promotions and specials with both," said Peter Smith, Big Y project manager.

The developers expect the new Big Y Express will take advantage of the heavily traveled West Street.

"About 75 percent is drive-by traffic, so the project really won't be generating many new car trips," said Scalice.

Roberts added, "The other 25 percent is our existing Big Y customers."

Founded in 1936, Big Y operates 60 stores throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut that include markets in Adams, Great Barrington, Lee, North Adams and Pittsfield.

F.L. Roberts operates a series of convenience stores, Jiffy Lubes, car washes and truck refueling stations in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.


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