If Wegmans can make it there, it can make it anywhere.
The Rochester-based grocer will open its first New York City store in Brooklyn.
The 74,000-square-foot market will be built on the site of a former military base on the East River, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is being converted into a $140 million industrial park. The company said that it does not have an opening date or any timeline for construction.
It will be the grocer’s smallest store, patterned after new locations in tight urban markets such as Newton, Mass., but larger than food stores currently operating in the Brooklyn area.
Wegmans is expected to appeal to working-class families and upscale foodies alike. Three low-income housing projects surround the store.
Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. was looking for a grocer to offer quality jobs and quality food. Wegmans’ plans for the Navy Yard site were approved ahead of other proposals because its food is wholesome and affordable, it promises to hire locally, and its plan would create more jobs than any of the other applicants, according to the nonprofit BNYDC. Wegmans will initially hire 450 people, 150 of them full-time workers. The total number of jobs is expected to grow to 600 – as many as 250 of them full time. That’s twice the overall number of hires and more than three times the number of full-time positions proposed by other applicants.
Wegmans’ first round of hiring will focus exclusively on residents from the three nearby housing projects, CEO Danny Wegman said. The company will spend more than $2 million to recruit and train its workforce, he said.
Wegmans was also cited by BNYDC for its good wages, paid leave, company-funded retirement plans and opportunities for education and career advancement.
“The Brooklyn Navy Yard is proud to deliver on its promise to bring a supermarket to this neighborhood,” said David Ehrenberg, BNYDC president and CEO. “But not just any grocery store. Wegmans is widely recognized as the country’s best supermarket for its affordable, quality food and is also recognized as the best retail employer in the country.”
Social media were abuzz with the news.
“We have received hundreds of tweets, many from former Western New Yorkers who say they grew up with Wegmans and this will make Brooklyn feel like home,” said Michele Mehaffy, a Wegmans spokeswoman.
The story was trending on Facebook. “Wegmans” and “Brooklyn Navy Yard” were trending on Twitter in New York City.
“Thrilled that @Wegmans is opening at the Navy Yard, the surrounding communities lack healthy/affordable grocery options. Also: subs,” tweeted Alexandrea Farrington.
Other posts were more over the top.
“@Wegmans the lord heard my prayers. I’m crying as I type this,” tweeted @thirdletterc.
“I support unabashed Wegmans fangirling,” tweeted Rachel H. Smith.
“They are going to have to build a shuttle line just for @Wegmans @MTA,” tweeted A Buffalogal in NYC.
Wegmans acknowledged the outpouring. “Brooklyn, we are listening and feeling the love,” Wegmans tweeted from its official Twitter account Wednesday morning. “We love you back! #WEGMANSBROOKLYN.”
Wegmans has 85 locations in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.