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Big Y to Workers: Take 'Vacation'

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Big Y Foods Inc. last week announced that it was asking its full-time employees to take voluntary layoffs. The Chicopee-based grocery chain sent a press release to certain media, it was reported in Masslive on Thursday. iBerkshires did not receive a statement from the company and a phone call to coporate headquarters on Tuesday to confirm if Berkshire County stores were included was not immediately returned.

The chain has three stores in Berkshire County: Adams, North Adams and Great Barrington. It operates 57 stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

According to several media outlets that received the statement, the voluntary layoffs were to begin on Monday. The chain has 9,100 workers to did not say how many were full time or how many would be asked to take time off.

The chain closed its East Hartford, Conn., store a year ago, laying off 100 workers, and shed 300 more two months later, saying it was part of a new operational strcture.

According to the company's Web site, it was ranked the second largest employer in Western Mass. in 2006 by Business West and as the eighth-largest private company in the area by Boston Business Journal.

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Prime Outlets Sold

Tammy Daniels

The largest public real estate company in the nation as purchased the Prime Outlets Acquisition Co. and some of its entities, including the Prime Outlets in Lee, for $2.35 billion.

The sale was announced Tuesday, Dec. 8, on the PRNewswire. Simon Property Group Inc. is an S&P 500 company (NYSE:  SPG) based in Indianopolis that operates regional malls, The Mills, community/lifestyle centers and international properties. It currently owns or has an interest in 385 properties comprising 262 million square feet of gross leasable area in North America, Europe and Asia, and employs 5,000 worldwide.

It has added Prime Outlets' 22 locations totaling more than 8.2 million square feet of retail space. As of June 30, 2009, Prime Outlets' centers were 92 percent occupied and generated annual sales per square foot of approximately $370. The Lee location is one of the smaller holdings at 224,519 square feet. 

More information on Simon is available at www.simon.com.

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Super Duper Wally World

Tammy Daniels

Word is a Walmart Supercenter is headed our way.  According to a report in the North Adams Transcript, the multinational retailer has filed plans at North Adams City Hall for a 160,000 square-foot building at the city's old gravel bank.

Ceruzzi Properties of Fairfield, Conn., acting as BVS 5401 Investors LLC, purchased the nearby Dellaghelfa properties at 1519 South State St. and West Road for about $2.2 million in 2007, the city's gravel pit for $700,000 in 2008, according to documents in the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds, and the former North Adams Plaza in 2004 for $2.5 million.

Nigro Development LLC of Albany, N.Y., had originally taken out a purchase-and-sales agreement for the gravel bank, then became a silent partner with what was then Starwood Ceruzzi to develop both the gravel and the plaza. Nigro is currently believed to be out of the picture.

A Lowe's is planned for the old North Adams Plaza that's been coming down piecemeal over the past few months. The Supercenter will include groceries, electronics and expanded lawn and garden departments.

No word on what will go in the old Walmart, but the discount chain has planned aggressive growth over the next two years despite the economic downturn. In October, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it would expand globally by 14 million square feet in this fiscal year and by 11 million next year.

Most of that will be through remodels and a focus on supercenters; the corporation expects to spend upwards of $25 billion (yes, BILLION) in capital construction over the next two years. 

The plans will go before the Planning Board on Dec. 14.

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Old Country Store Getting New City Sister

Tammy Daniels

Bill and Carrie Wright, owners of the Lenox Old Country Store, are opening a sister store, Emporium, at 431 North St. in Pittsfield. The new shop will contain much the same eclectic mix of merchandise as the Lenox store.

The grand opening celebration on Saturday, Nov. 28, will include a showing of contemporary paintings, mixed media and collage by four Pittsfield artists.The exhibition, "431/413," will feature pieces by Michael Carty, Jennifer Kimball, Edward Pelkey and Tony Sadowy. Work by all four will be available for purchase and the show will run through Dec. 31.

Opening reception will run Saturday from 7 to p.m.; regular hours are Monday through Thursday from 10 to 5, Friday and Saturday from 10 to 7 and Sunday from noon to 4. Find out more at the new blog for both stores.

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