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VOL. 130 | NO. 133 | Friday, July 10, 2015

Details Emerge on Planned Binghampton Retail Center

By Amos Maki

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The Binghampton neighborhood is inching closer to landing a grocery store as plans for a neighborhood retail center there come into clearer focus.

The Binghampton Development Corp. has signed a “letter of intent” with an unidentified national supermarket chain to build a store at the corner of Sam Cooper Boulevard and Tillman Street. It also is pursuing other retailers for the planned development that will bring more goods and jobs to the community.

An apartment complex at 480 Tillman St. in Binghampton was demolished in January to make way for a community retail center.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

“There are a lot of moving pieces and we’re trying to make them come together in just the right way and if it works it will be a pretty neat project,” said Noah Gray, executive director of the BDC, which has worked for years to rehabilitate and redevelop the inner-city neighborhood. “We’re negotiating with anchors that will not only serve the community but serve the city as well.”

More details on the project’s specifics have emerged as well. The retail center will contain 48,570 square feet of space, with about 22,000 square feet set aside for smaller shops that will be leased to a variety of local, regional and national retailers.

“We are working with another national user who will complement the supermarket and bring more goods and service to a community that is underserved by the retail community,” said Shawn Massey of The Shopping Center Group LLC, who is handling leasing of the retail center.

The BDC has sent a formal request for a planned development to the city-county Office of Planning and Development. The development agency will seek approval for the project from the Land Use Control Board on Aug. 13.

Fleming Architects is the architect and Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. is the engineer.

According to planning documents, the neighborhood center will feature a heavy mix of glass and brick, reflecting some of Binghampton’s architectural character while presenting a fresh, upscale look.

The retail center wraps around the southeast corner of Sam Cooper and Tillman, with the buildings placed close to the streets. While the retail center lines Sam Cooper and Tillman, providing high visibility for retailers, the shops will face “inward” toward the parking.

The grocery store space is located along Sam Cooper, with the smaller retail bays in the middle near the intersection and a “junior” anchor space along Tillman.

“It will be designed around some urban-designed principles that will make the center attractive to both pedestrians and vehicular traffic,” Massey said. 

The BDC has spent years planning for the development.

In January, the neighborhood development agency razed the dilapidated apartment building at 480 Tillman St., the last major step in securing 7.5 acres for future development, including the grocery-anchored commercial center, which will sit on nearly 4.9 acres.

The Binghampton community is bounded by East Parkway, Summer Avenue, Holmes Street and Poplar Avenue. As the city grew eastward and inner-city jobs evaporated during the 1970s and 1980s, residents who could move often did, leaving vacant or underutilized properties behind in a spiral that kept some locked in poverty.

But the BDC has been working in the neighborhood since 2003, renovating homes and apartment buildings, building new homes and offering community support programs, including housing counseling and job training.

“Community development is a long-term effort,” Gray said. “When you’re addressing issues like poverty, it doesn’t go away overnight and it’s a collaborative process.”

The new grocery store will be a welcome site in Binghampton, a certified food desert where many residents do not have access to affordable, healthy and fresh foods, Gray said.

“We’ve got community input for close to a decade for a grocery center here and there is strong support for it.”

PROPERTY SALES 83 405 4,276
MORTGAGES 104 424 4,814
BUILDING PERMITS 148 883 10,151
BANKRUPTCIES 53 264 3,149