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After sitting vacant for more than a year, the old Home Fabric Mills building on South Main Street is getting a complete makeover in anticipation of a new client — Dollar Tree.
Scheduled to open this fall, Dollar Tree’s newest store will be located at 882 S. Main St. in the four decades old building. However, when the new store opens in a few months, the building and property will look completely different, according to the landlord, Olympia Properties, LLC of New Haven.
In the spring of 2008, Olympia Properties purchased the 10,000-square-foot building for $1.35 million. In the time since then, the company tried feverishly to find a tenant to fill the space in the heart of Cheshire. According to Dennis Nicotra, a principal with Olympia Properties, companies such as Subway, Starbucks, and Nardelli’s Grinder Shoppe expressed an interest in leasing the space, but plans fell through when the economy plummeted.
“Most went to the wayside when the economy crashed in the fall of 2008,” Nicotra said. “Just recently, Dollar Tree discovered the space and thought it would be a perfect spot.”
Currently, large holes have been opened up on the building to allow workers with their equipment access to the space. According to Nicotra, the entire building is being redone with new electrical and plumbing, and old six-foot doorframes are being increased to eight-foot heights.
“It will all be brand new,” he said. “We are in the demo stage now and are about to start the repair stage.”
The five-year lease was signed a few weeks ago, Nicotra said, after Dollar Tree viewed the property and “thought it would be perfect.” Chris Nicotra, also with Olympia Properties, said the company does demographic and market research before considering a new location and found the Cheshire site suitable for a new store.
“They wanted to make sure the store would succeed,” he said. “It will basically be a brand new building and new property. Everyone is excited.”
Dollar Tree has more than 3,500 stores nationwide and the company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It was started more than 50 years ago and had more than $4 billion in sales the each of the past two years.
Cheshire Economic Development Coordinator Gerald Sitko said, “In this economy, that type of chain and product is doing quite well.” He noted that Dollar Tree has a lot of stores across the country, many of which have been successful. Sitko hoped that the property would be “well landscaped, upgraded, and maintained” with Dollar Tree as a tenant.
“This helps diversify the businesses,” Sitko said. “It’s all market driven. They feel there is a demand here and think they will do well.”
Sitko could not recall Cheshire having a “dollar store” since he’s been in Cheshire and thought the closest was Richlin Department Store, located where Staples is in the south end of town.
While most Dollar Tree outlets are standard box stores, Nicotra said he made a deal with the company to enhance its look.
“We wanted it to look more upscale than a typical store. We didn’t want a square box store,” Dennis Nicotra said. “We have a great deal of respect for the town and the location. It will be aesthetically pleasing.”
He compared the style to the new CVS directly across the street. There will be columns, brick, and stucco, as well as new landscaping and low profile lighting.
The 1.5-acre site is full of wooded areas and Nicotra explained the plans were to expand the parking lot into those areas. Overall, he said, Olympia Properties has the say on the look of the outside property, while Dollar Tree will outfit the interior.
“The work is going very fast and they intend to be open in the fall,” Nicotra said. “In light of the economic situation, we are very pleased. We are satisfied.”
Chris Nicotra said Dollar Tree has been opening around 200 stores a year and the “stock is doing extremely well right now.” He said from school and office supplies, to toys, games, and health care items, to kitchenware, Dollar Tree has everything for $1.
“They have an extensive array of merchandise,” he said. “The hope is to be open during the fall in time for the Christmas season.”