Whole Foods Market has been confirmed as one of the...

Whole Foods Market has been confirmed as one of the tenants that will be opening in Sun Vet Mall after the Holbrook property is redeveloped. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Whole Foods Market will be the largest tenant in Sun Vet Mall after the long-struggling Holbrook property is redeveloped as a shopping center, according to a developer.

In addition to being anchored by the incoming Whole Foods, "the project will also include 53,000 square feet of [non-anchor] shops and six outparcels, including a new location for the currently operating Citibank,” according to a statement Friday from Regency Centers Corp., a Jacksonville, Florida-based real estate investment trust that owns or has interest in 397 retail properties across the nation, including 11 on Long Island.

Regency holds a majority interest in a joint venture it entered into Thursday with Blumenfeld Development Group Ltd., or BDG, in Syosset to redevelop Sun Vet Mall.

BDG, which signed a 99-year ground lease for Sun Vet Mall last summer, submitted plans to the Town of Islip in October to redevelop the mall as a shopping center. Regency is now a partner on the ground lease for the mall, and it will oversee leasing and operations for the site. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Whole Foods Market will be one of the largest tenants in Sun Vet Mall after the Holbrook property is redeveloped as a shopping center.
  • Most of the tenants, including Whole Foods, will open in fall 2025, said an executive with Regency Centers Corp., the Florida company that is a partner in the mall's ground lease.
  • The redevelopment plan includes demolishing sections of the mall, which will be reduced in size by 42%.

“It’s an incredible location. …  It’s been on our radar for a long time because it was clearly a mall that was not going to make it into the future” without redevelopment, said Rebecca Wing, a Regency vice president of investments.

Regency also wanted to be involved in the Sun Vet Mall project because a number of grocery stores showed interest in leasing space in the redeveloped property, she said.

“Grocery stores is one of the main key ingredients for us. … We have, for a number of years, seen that grocery stores have held up really well as retail has shifted and there have been challenges to the industry,” said Wing, who added that 85% of Regency’s shopping centers are anchored by grocery stores.

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods did not respond to a request for comment.

The high-end grocer's six stores on Long Island are among its more than 500 supermarkets in North America and the United Kingdom.

Plans to go smaller

Built in 1973 at 5801 Sunrise Hwy., the once-bustling, 282,000-square-foot Sun Vet Mall sits on 18 acres and has been nearly vacant for years.

The redevelopment plan includes demolishing sections of the mall, which will be reduced in size by 42%, from 282,000 to 163,000 square feet, including the addition of six new outparcels, which are smaller building lots not attached to the main building.

The main mall building will be converted to a 134,000-square-foot, open-air shopping center with seven to eight tenants: Whole Foods occupying 40,000 square feet, a 58,000-square-foot building (that likely will be split by two tenants), a 26,000-square-foot store and four small tenants ranging from 2,000 to 4,000 square feet.

The six new outparcels will have seven buildings: three banks totaling 12,000 square feet, with drive-thru lanes; a 3,500-square-foot sit-down restaurant with 100 seats; a 2,845-square-foot fast-food restaurant with 74 seats and a drive-thru lane; a 1,512-square-foot Starbucks; and a 7,000-square-foot retail and medical/dental building.

After BDG made some revisions to the proposal to address town officials' and residents' traffic concerns, the Islip Planning Board voted on Feb. 8 to recommend that the town board approve the redevelopment plan's zone change, special use permits and site plan modifications. 

“The major change was swapping the proposed fast-food restaurant on the southwestern part of the site with the proposed drive-through bank north of the Broadway Avenue entrance,” town spokeswoman Caroline Smith said.

The town board approved the plan April 20.

“Now that the town board voted to move forward with the planning board’s recommendation, the company will finalize architect and engineering plans and submit to the Town of Islip for review and approvals," said Jon Cohen, a principal at BDG.

Construction work on the mall is expected to start this fall and take 24 to 30 months to finish, he said.

Most of the tenants, including Whole Foods, will open in fall 2025, Wing said.

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