BLAIRSVILLE — A national retailer has signed a lease for space in a former grocery store, and renovation work is now under way.
So if all goes as planned, Tractor Supply Co. will be opening the doors on its East Market Street store perhaps in June, according to D. Craig Josephson, a partner in the property development team that is bringing the store to downtown Blairsville.
Josephson’s Strategic Real Estate Properties announced in February that it had managed to lure to the farm- and ranch-supplies retailer to the building that used to house a BiLo grocery store. Strategic Real Estate had been looking for tenants since acquiring the property from The Penn Traffic Co. in January 2013.
Josephson said Tractor Supply signed a 10-year lease with options to renew. It’s taking most, but not all of, the building, leaving about one-third unoccupied.
The hope is to find another grocer to take that space, and Josephson said work along those lines is continuing. He said he believes it’s more likely than not that his firm will have secured a tenant sometime before the year is out.
Returning a grocer to downtown Blairsville is high on the list of the borough’s redevelopment priorities, and one that is critical to its proposed riverfront housing project.
Still, having a national retailer set up shop downtown is certainly a major win for the borough. The hope is that the store will steer some new traffic into downtown, and once there, perhaps to some of mom-and-pop shops along Market Street.
Josephson said Tractor Supply is interested in Blairsville because it saw an underserved market. He said it had been looking around for a space, but hadn’t been aware of anything that would suit its needs.
Tractor Supply already has stores in White Township, Latrobe, Kittanning, Johnstown and Delmont. It’s been in a growth mode, having opened 280 new stores over the last three fiscal years.
As of Dec. 28, 2013, the company had 1,276 stores, 68 of which are in Pennsylvania, according to its annual statement. Pennsylvania is an important state to the store — it ranks fifth on the list of states with the most Tractor Supply locations. It has stores in 48 states.