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Stewart's store may be rebuilt on expanded plot

WARRENSBURG Several years ago, Town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty was pumping gas into his Ford Taurus at Stewarts convenience store on Main Street when a car that had earlier squeezed into a cramped parking space backed up and bashed his car door. I just knew it would happen some day, he recalled this week, talking about Stewarts tiny parking area wedged in between the store and the pump island, where more than a few crashes have occurred. But soon, the angst that hundreds of drivers are daily experiencing at Stewarts may be history. Stewarts Shoppes is planning to buy the neighboring property, demolish all buildings on both their property and the adjacent one, and build a new store with far more parking space and generous vehicle access. The site plans will be reviewed at a public hearing Tues. April 15 before the Warrensburg Planning Board. The plans call for demolishing Potters Diner and the accompanying deteriorating motel behind it, and partially converting the Diners asphalt parking area with a green lawn to include picnic tables. A new Stewarts store would be built on the Potters Diner property, after which the present Stewarts store would be torn down and the site would be redeveloped for a new three-pump gas island with canopy, set perpendicular to Rte. 9 and surrounded with parking areas. The three dual pumps would be three times the existing gas-pumping capacity. The expanded Stewart's premises would be 260 percent larger than the existing site, while adding new, landscaped green spaces at the front and southwest side, and providing three separate entries for smoother traffic flow, according to Stewarts real estate representative Tom Lewis. For many years, parking has been woefully inadequate, but if this goes through well have far more parking space and a whole new building, he said. Its a win-win situation for everybody. Lewis said that his company has signed a contract to buy the plot from its existing owner, which according to county records is Virginia DeFranco. Lewis said the expansion plans were to boost convenience for existing customers and to be more inviting to travelers, and to invest in beautifying the Warrensburg streetscape. The considerable expenses to be shouldered by Stewarts in redeveloping the land would only yield financial benefits long-term, he said. Plans to replace existing stores like this rarely work for us financially in the short term, he said. Barring any permitting or legal delays barriers, Lewis said, the new Stewarts store could be built by October.

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