By Jano Tantongco
With a shell of a defunct Waldbaum’s store sitting vacant in the Melville Mall since last year, nearby residents have lost a nearby convenience and are instead traveling elsewhere for their supermarket needs.
Last October, mall landlord Federal Realty Investment Trust bid on and won back the lease of the former Waldbaum’s space from Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. This came after A&P filed for bankruptcy, prompting a swath of closings, including several stores in the Town of Huntington.
Lisa Geiger, marketing manager for Federal Realty, was asked if there are any new developments regarding the space. She said in a May 16 email, “At this time, I do not have anything to announce regarding the former Waldbaum’s space.”
Since there are currently no major, big-name supermarkets located in Melville, resident have reportedly been traveling to other hamlets, such as Woodbury and Plainview, in search of everyday grocery items.
On Friday, Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson was concerned when he learned of this. He said he doesn’t want residents to have to travel to have their supermarket needs met.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised in the other spaces that have been left vacant by virtue of this bankruptcy, so we’re still hopeful that’s going to be the case,” he said, adding that he looks forward to Federal Realty soliciting another grocery tenant for the space.
“I would think from their perspective, it’s well-suited, too,” he said.
Alissa Taff, president of the Sweet Hollow Civic Association in Melville, echoed the councilman’s statements. Taff, who lives near the West Hills-Melville border, said the closure has especially affected residents closest to Route 110.
“I think it’s a hardship on many people. It affected a fair amount of people in that area,” she said. “I think we need to do something to encourage a large supermarket chain to come here and provide the goods and service that the area requires.”
Victoria Belous, a 15-year Melville resident, explained that the former Waldbaum’s was an “easy stopover” to pick up groceries in daily traveling.
On not having that anymore, she said, “It’s a huge inconvenience.”
Belous said she now often shops at the ShopRite in Plainview, or the King Kullen in Huntington.