WARRENSBURG - The new, controversial Stewart's Shop on Stewart Farrar Ave. is opening to the public Wednesday, Dec. 15, Stewart's officials confirmed Tuesday.
The construction of the new store has been challenged in an Article 78 lawsuit by a group of citizens who have said the store would compromise the neighborhood's character as well as create traffic safety problems for pedestrians.
As of Tuesday, the motions in the lawsuit were still pending. The store, however was constructed over the past 10 weeks or so - regardless of the challenge.
Tom Mailey of Stewart's Shops said the store would be opening to customers at 4 a.m. on Wednesday without fanfare. A grand opening might be held in several weeks, but there are no firm plans for one at this point, he said.
The store offers a considerably expanded parking area, with access and room to maneuver - much improved over the existing store on lower Main Street, where vehicles routinely have trouble squeezing between the parking spaces in front of the store and the gas pumps.
The inventory from the old store will be moved to the new store in the hours after it closes Tuesday night at midnight, store employees said. They added that the existing store will be closed for business beginning the day the new one opens.
Tuesday, workers were constructing the fascia on the gas pump canopy, as well as finishing the store's interior, including counters, coolers and booths. Signage was expected to be installed late this week.
Mailey said that local community activist Kathy Quintal has been seeking historic photos of Stewart's former stores, and has suggested that Stewart's hang them on their walls. She particularly has been searching for photos of Stewart's long-time store manager, Max Morehouse, who retired in the early 1990s.
Mailey said they'd love to display such photos on the new store's walls.