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Retail Roundup: Babylon OKs Walmart plan to convert LI store to supercenter

The Town of Babylon has given Walmart the go-ahead for a 62,450-square-foot addition on the front and south side of the Farmingdale building.

Walmart is seeking approval from Babylon Town to

Walmart is seeking approval from Babylon Town to expand its Farmingdale store by 40 percent. Photo Credit: Walmart

Walmart has been trying to get a bigger piece of the retail action in Farmingdale for nearly a decade.

The world’s largest retailer will finally get its wish.

The Town of Babylon has given Walmart Inc. the go-ahead on a plan to convert its Farmingdale store to a supercenter by constructing a 62,450-square-foot addition on the front and south side of the building, which is at 965 Broadhollow Rd.

The project would increase the size of the store by 40 percent — to 219,450 square feet — to create a supercenter with a full-service grocery store, drive-thru service area for picking up online orders, and expanded departments.

Babylon's planning board approved the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company’s site plan for the expansion Oct. 15, and the town's zoning board of appeals approved the company’s application for zoning variances Dec. 6. 

On Wednesday, Walmart spokesman Phillip Keene declined to comment on the proposal, saying the company had not received an official letter of approval from Babylon yet.

In September 2017, the discount retailer submitted its application to Babylon for site plan approval to expand the Farmingdale store.

But that wasn’t the company’s first crack at expanding the store.

The retailer had sought approval from Babylon before, in 2009. But the plans stalled because Walmart submitted only a building permit application but no site plan, and it declined to submit a traffic impact study on the proposal as the town had requested, said Kevin Bonner, spokesman for Babylon. 

For its latest application, Walmart submitted a traffic study prepared by Atlantic Traffic & Design Engineers Inc., a Warren, New Jersey-based firm with an office in Hauppauge, and reviewed on behalf of the town by Nelson & Pope, an engineering and surveying firm in Melville, Bonner said.

“The study determined no significant impacts to traffic conditions in the vicinity of the site.  A June 18, 2018, comment letter from the NYS DOT also stated that the scope of work will not have a significant impact on the state highway system,” he said.

Broadhollow Road is a section of state Route 110. 

Walmart still needs to apply for a building permit for the expansion project, Bonner said.

“The approvals from both the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals are valid for 180 days before an extension of time must be obtained by the applicant,” he said.

Walmart’s Farmingdale store, which opened in 2007, already has auto care, photo and vision centers, as well as a pharmacy, store pickup for online orders and a Subway restaurant. The store is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Most of Walmart’s supercenters are open 24 hours a day.  

The company's supercenters also are larger than its regular stores — 185,000 square feet compared to 100,000 square feet on average, Keene told me in July. The chain’s full-service grocery stores include fresh produce sections, delis, bakeries, and expanded freezer and dairy sections, he said.

A typical store conversion to a supercenter also would expand the baby, and health and beauty sections, he said.

Of Walmart’s 12 stores on Long Island, only the one in Valley Stream is a supercenter.

As of Oct. 31, Walmart Inc. had 5,352 total retail locations, including Sam’s Club warehouse stores, in the United States, according to the company’s website.

Among all the company's stores, 67 percent were supercenters.

Retail Roundup is a column about major retail news on Long Island — store openings, closings, expansions, acquisitions, etc. — that is published online and in the Monday paper. To read more of these columns, click here. If you have news to share, please send an email to Newsday reporter Tory N. Parrish at tory.parrish@newsday.com.

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