Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


August 12, 2010

Later fall opening for Stop & Shop

The opening of the new Stop & Shop in town has been pushed back a month because so much work needs to be done in its building at Shawsheen Plaza.

Instead of October, a spokesman said the supermarket will open by mid-November.

"It's a 40-year-old building and needs a lot of work and more than we thought," said Stop & Shop spokesman Bob LaRochelle. "This project will take longer than we thought but we're very excited to be opening in Andover."

It's been quiet at the site which used to house a bustling Market Basket. After 44 years, that supemmarket closed June 26. Market Basket's lease was not renewed as Stop & Shop bought the entire plaza in October 2008 for $12.7 million, according to the Registry of Deeds, Northern Essex District. Stop & Shop's plan to open a store at the location was announced in February 2009.

LaRochelle said the Market Basket lease officially expired on July 15. Since then, a team of contractors affiliated with Stop & Shop has been inside the now vacant building and working on the remodeling plans. It's not clear exactly when the remodeling will begin. LaRochelle said the company is currently waiting for to hear from contractors about how much the project will cost.

Town zoning laws prohibit expansion, so Stop & Shop will be the exact same size as the former Market Basket. LaRochelle said all plans stick to the original footprint of the grocery store.

Whole Foods Market, a natural and organic products market on Railroad Street with generally higher prices for traditional grocery items, will remain the only supermarket in town until the new Stop & Shop opens.

LaRochelle, an Andover native and 1971 Andover High School graduate, said the five-month wait for Stop & Shop will be well worth it for shoppers.

"This is going to be a top-notch (grocery) store. We are going to do it right," LaRochelle said. "It's going to be better than before."

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