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Island Park King Kullen going up

Construction scheduled to begin next month


After years of being held up by red tape, the last of the approvals has been given for construction to begin on the King Kullen in Island Park.

The Town of Hempstead recently approved the final permits and awarded the site plan permits to the developer John Vitale, owner of Barnum Land Development LLC.

“It’s been a long process,” Vitale said. “A lot of thought went into it. The town and the county scrutinized it pretty well. Three years is a lot of red tape to get a project built. But I’m very excited.”

If everything goes according to plan, Vitale said, he expects to break ground on the new building on Oct. 1. That wouldn’t be the start of construction, however. A lot of work has to be done to the site before the building can begin, Vitale added, including raising the grade of part of the area and removing Beach Avenue, which bisects the property.

“It’s a challenging piece of property,” he said. “So it’s probably more complicated than the average piece of property on the site-work side.”

James Johnston, director of real estate for King Kullen Grocery Co. Inc., said that the company hopes to open the store in late 2012. “We are all very excited about bringing America’s first supermarket to Island Park,” Johnston said. “There is a real need for a supermarket here, and the local community has supported the project from the start. Everyone at King Kullen looks forward to getting this store built and serving the village for years to come.”

The proposal for the Barnum Isle site — which is bordered by Austin Boulevard on the west, Baker Court on the north, Petit Place on the east and Waterfront Boulevard on the south — includes not only the supermarket, but also other stores in the shopping center. Those spaces have yet to be filled, although Vitale has said that some businesses have begun to express interest.

“We’re really starting to market it now that we’ve got the permits and a target date,” he said. “I think people have been waiting to see that we’re getting the permits.”

While many people in the community supported the project, it was not without its opponents. Some residents in a nearby apartment complex and the surrounding streets were concerned about noise from delivery trucks as well as the traffic the new shopping center would create.

Vitale, however, has always said the project would be a boon to the area, most of which is currently an empty lot. The shopping center would add parking and lighting to the area, he said, making it both more accessible and safer for people who also patronize his clubs on Waterfront Boulevard — Paddy McGee’s, Warehouse 5, Coyote Grill and Bridgeview Yacht Club.

Addressing residents’ concerns, Vitale has said that the shopping center would provide more parking than the current site does, while the lighting would make it safer as well. “I’m really excited about it,” he said. “It’s just a great thing for Island Park. It’s a great addition. It’s going to really help revitalize Island Park.”