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Tops Markets Inc. began construction Friday on its a 112,000-square-foot store near the Boulevard Mall at Maple Road and North Bailey Avenue in Amherst.

The store, which will be Tops' largest in Western New York, is scheduled for completion by next spring.

The new Tops Friendly Market, which will be the chain's largest supermarket and employ more than 500 people, will be poised to compete with the 65,000 square-foot Wegman's Food Pharmacy at 575 Alberta Ave.

"Our Maple and Bailey super store will have a broad food selection as well as a special emphasis on general merchandise and non-food items," Larry Castellani, Tops' president, said in a prepared statement.

The new store is located on the same site as a former Gold Circle department store, which closed shortly after that chain was acquired by the Hill's department store chain in 1988. To make room for the supermarket, Grisanti's Restaurant and the Toddle House restaurant were demolished.

When the store is completed, it will replace the Tops at 3232 Sheridan Drive in Amherst. Employees at the Sheridan store will be offered positions at the new location.

The store will have a full-service pharmacy offering prescription transfers and third-party co-payments. The pharmacy also will have a health and nutrition information system called the Med Module.

A Photo One center will offer one-hour film developing. Fresh seafood, take-out meals, meats including smoked meats, poultry, baked goods and deli counter also will available in the new facility.

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