• 03.17.23

    Newsday: Taco Bell, Harbor Freight Tools among new tenants planned for revamped Bohemia shopping center

By Tory N. Parrish

Sayville Plaza is losing its one of its oldest tenants but gaining some new players as the formerly struggling shopping center undergoes a resurgence.

Christmas Tree Shops, Harbor Freight Tools and Boot Barn will open new stores in the Bohemia shopping center this spring.

Also, a Taco Bell and another fast-food restaurant are planned for the property, but the construction of their freestanding buildings needs approval from the town of Islip. A Chick-Fil-A is planned for one of the restaurant buildings, according to the property owner’s website, but the company declined to comment.

Sayville Plaza, mostly vacant just a few years ago, now is fully leased following the sale of the middle piece of the property and the addition of new large-chain stores since 2021, such as an Aldi grocery store, Floor & Decor and home goods store At Home.

“I think it’s a great tenant mix right now. … That’s quite a turnaround,” said Robert Delavale, vice president and director of leasing at Breslin Realty Development Corp., the Garden City-based real estate firm that owns part of Sayville Plaza through an affiliate.

But the real estate firm is again faced with filling a big-box hole at Sayville Plaza because the Bed Bath & Beyond store, in Breslin Realty’s portion of the shopping center, will close this month.

(The store and three others on Long Island are among hundreds of Bed Bath & Beyond stores that will be closing as the home goods retailer’s Union, New Jersey-based parent company struggles to stave off bankruptcy.)

The closing in Bohemia will leave a 42,000-square-foot vacancy. The store has been in the shopping center since 2004, when it took over a former King Kullen supermarket space, Delavale said.

Breslin Realty is negotiating with at least four potential tenants to subdivide the building or take the entire space, he said.

“We’re looking for a national tenant whose use is basically … consistent with the various other co-tenancies in the center,” he said.

A different look

Sayville Plaza is split between two owners.

One of them is Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Transformco, which bought Sears Holdings’ assets in 2019. Transformco paid $18.4 million to buy 234,800 square feet of vacant property in the middle of Sayville Plaza from Clifton, New Jersey-based real estate investment trust Arctrust in 2021. In 2017, Arctrust sued Sears Holdings, which had a Kmart and a master lease allowing it to sublease the rest of the space on the property , for allegedly failing to do proper maintenance on the site.

Transformco redeveloped its section of Sayville Plaza and its tenants are Aldi, Floor & Decor and At Home.

Transformco declined to comment, its attorney said.

Breslin Realty owns the remaining 144,500 square feet of the shopping center, including the strip on the right where Christmas Tree Shops, Harbor Freight Tools and Boot Barn will be opening.

For years, Sayville Plaza was plagued by vacancies caused by national retailers’ bankruptcies and other financial woes after the exits of Babies R Us, OfficeMax, Borders Books & Music, and Sports Authority.

Also, Modell’s Sporting Goods and Pier 1 Imports filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020 and closed their stores, including locations in Sayville Plaza.
Now, the Christmas Tree Shops, which sells seasonal products and home décor year-round, will be occupying 38,000 square feet in the former Babies R Us space.

Harbor Freight Tools in May will take a 20,000-square-foot unit formerly occupied by Modell’s.

Western wear store Boot Barn will be in 10,000 square feet where Pier I Imports used to be located.

Aldi, At Home and Floor & Decor have divvied up 110,000 square feet of space that Kmart vacated in 2020. The 94,000-square-foot At Home store, which opened in April, also is using space left vacant by OfficeMax, Borders and Sports Authority.

Chick-Fil-A in the works?
Transformco submitted building plans in May to the town of Islip to construct two fast-food restaurants — one would be a 5,167-square-foot building, while the other would be 2,106 square feet — in Sayville Plaza, according to the town.

Based on feedback from a planning board hearing in June, Transformco revised the plans, including adding more security cameras and increasing landscaping in front of one of the restaurants.

The plan will be presented to the planning board again, but the date has not been scheduled yet.

The names of the proposed restaurants are not on the plans but Transformco Properties’ website identifies them as Chick-Fil-A and Taco Bell.

The Taco Bell in Sayville Plaza will be a corporate-owned eatery and it is expected to open in summer 2024, a representative for the Irvine, California-based restaurant chain confirmed.

Atlanta-based Chick-Fil-A Inc. did not respond to Newsday’s requests for comment.

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