Pittsfield Big Y completes $7.9 million expansion, renovation


PITTSFIELD -- One of Berkshire County’s largest supermarkets has received a multimillion-dollar renovation and expansion.

Springfield-based Big Y Foods Inc. has just completed a 10-month, $7.9 million renovation of its market on West Street that has added 1,510 square feet to the already mammoth food shopping space.

The supermarket now contains 58,300 square feet, and occupies almost the entire structure, which holds 63,806 square feet, according to the city assessor’s office. The building was the largest supermarket in New England when it was built on the site of a former freight train depot in 1973.

The Pittsfield store’s price tag dwarfs the some $1.4 million that Big Y spent on renovations to its markets in Adams and North Adams last year, and boosts the regional supermarket chain’s investment in its five Berkshire County locations to $43 million since 2008. That sum includes the $14 million to $16 million that Big Y spent to construct a new supermarket in Lee, which opened in November 2011.

Big Y, which operates 62 markets in Massachusetts and Connecticut, had eyed moving its West Street market to the Pittsfield Plaza on West Housatonic Street because the building needed too many improvements.

But those plans fell through in 2010 after the economy crashed, and Big Y decided to stay put.

Store manager Kevin Grise said he believed the company’s plans for renovating the West Street facility originally weren’t as extensive as they became.

"I think they were going to do a more scaled-down remodel," Grise said. "But they changed their mind for whatever reason."

Big Y purchased the West Street market from the former Adams Supermarket chain in 1984, and had last renovated the structure in 1995.

"It was definitely way overdue," Grise said.

Claire D’Amour-Daley, Big Y’s vice president of corporate communications, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

The extensive renovations, which began in September, include major changes to all areas of the store, including many new additions that customers requested. They have allowed Big Y to offer more products in a friendlier atmosphere, Grise said.

"Probably the biggest thing is that we have a brighter, cleaner environment to shop in," Grise said. "We’re able to offer more selections, which is good for business because people don’t have to go to multiple markets."

The newly renovated store has the same number of aisles (10) as it did before, but includes new flooring, painting, equipment and fixtures, including new electrical service from the street, and new refrigeration units. The store is also equipped with high efficiency lighting.

"We use a lot less energy," Grise said.

The store’s gluten-free department has been expanded to 300 selections. Soup and olive bars have been added. There’s a sushi department with a sushi chef, which is a first for the West Street market.

The bakery has been expanded, although the produce department received most of the building’s additional square footage, which was taken from a package store that shares the building with Big Y.

The cafe has been remodeled, which was achieved by shortening the space previously occupied by the store’s pharmacy. The pharmacy and wellness space have been moved to an area more accessible to shoppers.

The store’s main entrance remains unchanged, but a new exit has been added adjacent to it. The entrance on the West Street side of the structure has been moved to a slightly different location. The store has new shopping carts, including several vehicles that can be accessed by the physically handicapped.

The building also has a new generator, which provides all of the store’s heating and cooling needs. That wasn’t the case before, which caused problems during power outages.

"I sleep a little bit better at night," Grise said. "I can enjoy a thunderstorm now."

The exterior renovations include a new sign in front of the store and façade improvements.

Grise said the exterior improvements were done because the outside of the market looked "tired."

"It just needed it," he said.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
or (413) 496-6224.


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