WARRENSBURG - The new, controversial Stewart's Shop on Stewart Farrar Ave. is opening to the public Wednesday, Dec. 15, Stewart's officials confirmed Tuesday.
The construction of the new store has been challenged in an Article 78 lawsuit by a group of citizens who have said the store would compromise the neighborhood's character as well as create traffic safety problems for pedestrians.
As of Tuesday, the motions in the lawsuit were still pending. The store, however was constructed over the past 10 weeks or so - regardless of the challenge.
Tom Mailey of Stewart's Shops said the store would be opening to customers at 4 a.m. on Wednesday without fanfare. A grand opening might be held in several weeks, but there are no firm plans for one at this point, he said.
The store offers a considerably expanded parking area, with access and room to maneuver - much improved over the existing store on lower Main Street, where vehicles routinely have trouble squeezing between the parking spaces in front of the store and the gas pumps.
The inventory from the old store will be moved to the new store in the hours after it closes Tuesday night at midnight, store employees said. They added that the existing store will be closed for business beginning the day the new one opens.
Tuesday, workers were constructing the fascia on the gas pump canopy, as well as finishing the store's interior, including counters, coolers and booths. Signage was expected to be installed late this week.
Mailey said that local community activist Kathy Quintal has been seeking historic photos of Stewart's former stores, and has suggested that Stewart's hang them on their walls. She particularly has been searching for photos of Stewart's long-time store manager, Max Morehouse, who retired in the early 1990s.
Mailey said they'd love to display such photos on the new store's walls.
"Max was an important part of Stewart's history, and a member of the Stewart's family in Warrensburg," he said.
Competing Cumby's holds ribbon cutting
Tuesday, the Warrensburg central hamlet's competing corporate convenience enterprise, Cumberland Farms, held a grand opening complete with a ribbon cutting for their existing store, which was gutted and rebuilt over the past several months.
Cumberland Farms took over a formerly rented space at the southern end of their building, and doubled the size of their store. This store reconstruction resulted in the company expanding their hot food and bakery offerings and making their interior far more spacious, while installing a public rest room.
The renovated Cumberland Farms exterior is also white, with logos in sea green. An existing store sign is not as high as the former sign, but has red digital numbers displaying gas prices. The LED signage has caused concern with some town residents who have said the sign is visually intrusive and not in harmony with the town's historic character.