SEABROOK — By summer, patrons of Seabrook's South Gate Plaza on Route 1 will find a larger shopping center with six or more new stores anchored by an expanded Market Basket that features a small cafe.
The Planning Board recently OK'd the final tweaking of already approved plans submitted by plaza owner Demoulas Super Markets, Chairman Donald Hawkins said.
The expansion and improvements are slated for what is known locally as Market Basket South's plaza, home to the larger, and busier, of Demoulas' two supermarkets in town. The plaza also includes TJ Maxx, Sal's Pizza and Radio Shack.
Plans call for a roughly 35,000-square-foot expansion of the approximately 128,000-square-foot shopping center, Hawkins said. About 10,000 square feet will be added to each end of the center. In addition, the former home of Honey Bee Restaurant and Donut Shoppe next to South Gate Plaza to the north will be razed, clearing the way for construction of a roughly 15,000-square-foot addition. The Honey Bee site has been empty for years.
The project was approved in 2011, but Hawkins said the latest change to the plans allows the grocery store to alter its front entrance, bowing it out to permit space for a small cafe where shoppers can sit and eat after purchasing prepared foods from the store.
Hawkins said the developer didn't have the names of the stores that will be moving into the center, but that there could be as many as a half-dozen new retail options once all is done.
Construction is expected to begin this spring, with hopes of completion by summer.
Demoulas had originally hoped not only to improve and enlarge South Gate Plaza and Market Basket South, but also completely revamp the Seabrook Plaza Shopping Center, which holds the smaller Market Basket North store. However, plans for improvements to Seabrook Plaza were withdrawn by company officials, who cited excessive town-required permitting costs.
Patronized primarily by local shoppers from surrounding New Hampshire communities, the 110,000-square-foot Seabrook Plaza is just north of the busy intersection of routes 1 and 107 that leads to the west side of Seabrook and abutting communities. Half-empty for more than a decade, since closure of the 52,000-square-foot Ames Department Store, Seabrook Plaza currently is home to a 42,000-square-foot Market Basket, a small state liquor store and busy gas station.
According to the application that was withdrawn, Demoulas wanted to redevelop the shopping center into a new configuration that would expand it to 135,000 square feet, rebuilding the main building to include a nearly 77,000-square-foot grocery store, plus two more retail spaces, one 13,000 square feet, the other 24,600 square feet.
The expansion would have added another nearly 18,000-square-foot building, sitting perpendicular to the lot's south boundary, with another 2,400-square-foot store at the lot's northern corner, which, according to the plans, appeared to include gas pumps.
Hawkins said that to date, no new plans have been brought forward by Demoulas to improve Seabrook Plaza.