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Burlington plans a new, smaller-format store in Farmingville

A rendering of Expressway Plaza in Farmingville that

A rendering of Expressway Plaza in Farmingville that includes a Burlington store and expected renovations. Credit: H2M architects + engineers

Burlington is reducing its store sizes to cut costs – and plans to bring one of its smaller locations to Long Island.

The chain of off-price department stores, which already has plans in the works to relocate its Patchogue store to a smaller space and reduce the size of its Garden City location, also intends to open a new, smaller store in Farmingville.

Burlington plans to open a 32,000-square-foot location in part of a former Kmart space at Expressway Plaza in Farmingville, said Jack Pierce, a spokesman for Schuckman Realty Inc., the Rockville Centre-based real estate firm that markets the shopping center.

Kmart was the largest tenant in the shopping center, where the discount store occupied 103,000 square feet, at 2280 N. Ocean Ave., before closing in November 2019. The remainder of the former Kmart space and four small units are not leased at the shopping center, which has a 35% vacancy rate.

Farmingville Associates, the owner of Expressway Plaza, plans to renovate the 230,000-square-foot shopping center, which was built in 1998.

"Burlington is one of these retailers that is doing pretty well. … Obviously, the owner of the shopping center feels that bringing in a large anchor tenant and renovations will certainly make the center more appealing," and attract more tenants, Pierce said.

Farmingville Associates, which is an affiliate of Manhattan-based real estate firm Midwood Investment & Development, has applied to the Town of Brookhaven for site plan approval to do the renovations, according to filings with the town.

Existing tenants in Expressway Plaza include a Stop & Shop supermarket, LA Fitness, Starbucks, Sally Beauty and TGI Friday's.

Burlington has signed a 10-year lease at Expressway Plaza, according to Schuckman Realty.

The firm does not know when Burlington will open in the shopping center, Pierce said.

Neither Burlington Stores Inc. nor Midwood responded to Newsday's requests for comment.

Burlington had 761 stores in 45 states and Puerto Rico as of Jan. 30, including seven locations on Long Island.

Founded in 1972, the Burlington, New Jersey-based company has been working to reduce the size of its stores to increase efficiency for the past several years.

In fiscal 2020, the average size of new Burlington stores was 40,000 square feet, compared to 43,000 square feet in 2018.

In November, the retailer said it had been working on a 25,000-square-foot prototype for about a year.

"We expect that about a third of our new store openings in 2021 will be in this format, and that, over time, this smaller prototype will grow to represent the majority of our new store openings," Michael O'Sullivan, Burlington’s chief executive officer, said during a quarterly earnings call with analysts in March.

The company plans to add about 100 new stores in 2021, while closing or relocating approximately 25 stores, for a total increase of 75 net new stores, the retailer said in March.

Burlington already has been working to reduce its footprint on Long Island.

In June, the retailer will relocate its 55,000-square-foot store on Main Street in Patchogue to a smaller space, 22,925 square feet, that was part of a former Bob’s Stores space on Sunrise Highway in the village.

Burlington also is shrinking its 83,823-square-foot store on Stewart Avenue in Garden City to 64,000 square feet.

The retailer is opening smaller stores and reducing the size of existing locations because they operate more leanly with in-store inventory and their occupancy costs are lower because of cheaper rent, utilities, staffing, maintenance, etc., Burlington has said.

Smaller stores also give the retailer more options for leasing space.

Those factors contributed to Burlington increasing its long-term target store number from 1,000 to 2,000, O'Sullivan said in March.

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