By MADELINE HUGHES
The biggest grocery store between South Burlington and Vergennes could be coming to Route 7 in Shelburne alongside a brand new fire station.
Shelburne’s Selectboard announced Tuesday night that the town is looking to partner with Healthy Living Market and Café for a real estate development that would include a new market and a new fire and rescue station at the corner of Longmeadow Drive, on a parcel currently owned by Rice Lumber.
The board will put the question of whether to proceed with the Selectboard’s negotiated terms for the deal on the Town Meeting Day ballot that voters will consider March 5.
“This site could not be better for us,” said Fire Chief Jerry Ouimet. “It meets our needs.”
By agreeing to enter into a purchase agreement, the town will further vet the property for its capacity to hold a combined fire and rescue station and begin the permitting process.
Town officials explained that sharing this venture with Healthy Living would save money. The grocer would purchase the entire 4.8-acre parcel and then subdivide it for the two uses.
Shelburne voters would be asked in 2020 to spend $650,000 to purchase the portion of the site for the fire station from Healthy Living.
The grocery store plans to get permits over the next year and break ground in 2020.
The central location on Route 7 in Shelburne at an existing traffic light is what the fire and rescue departments determined they needed in an early 2000s study.
The partnership comes after nearly two months of negotiations between the Selectboard and Healthy Living. The South Burlington-based grocery store approached the town after putting an option on one of Rice Lumber’s lots.
Construction has been under way for more than a year to build a new Rice Lumber facility south of its longtime location on Shelburne Road.
The proposed 18,000 square-foot grocery store would be the largest along Route 7 between South Burlington and Vergennes. That is just over half the size of the chain’s 34,000 square-foot South Burlington location on Dorset Street, and slightly larger than the 13,500 square-foot Shelburne Supermarket.
“We’re extremely excited to join the community of Shelburne,” Healthy Living CEO Eli Lesser-Goldsmith said in a press release. “Many of our guests live in Shelburne, and nearby communities including Charlotte, Hinesburg and Ferrisburgh. Our new store will be more convenient for them and help the environment by reducing their drive miles to reach our store.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, Selectboard Vice Chair Jaime Heins said the town choosing the site for a new municipal building and partnering with the grocery store could help “revitalize the corridor” along the busy highway.
A few old Rice Lumber buildings are currently on the 4.8 acres Healthy Living hopes to acquire and they would be torn down, officials said.
Heins said that giving new life to that commercial corridor was a priority for the planning commission while he served on it. “We’ve vetted this project closely and determined that we would put it on the ballot,” Heins said. “It’s exciting for the town to enter into this.”
The Shelburne store will be Healthy Living’s third store. The company has another store in Saratoga Springs, N.Y..
“We haven’t had the option long, and we knew the fire station wanted to be in that location,” Lesser-Goldsmith told Shelburne News after the meeting. “All the sudden we found ourselves meeting and here we are.”
He has been working on the project to break into Shelburne for some time.
The question on the Town Meeting Day ballot Shelburne voters will decide to enter into a sales agreement with Healthy Living, putting up $50,000 for project analysis.