Just over a month after the neighboring Rite Aid closed, property managers of the Staples office supply store on Whalley Avenue, which will close Nov. 21, are already in talks with prospective tenants for both properties. Yale is not purchasing the lots, said Abigail Rider, Associate Vice President and University Properties Director.
Staples employees at the store said they could not comment on the closure. The Staples corporate human resources department did not return multiple telephone calls and voice messages for comment. One employee, who declined to give his name because all employees were instructed not to talk about the closure, said that all eight current employees at 84 Whalley will be transferred to other Staples stores nearby.
The Staples and Rite Aid lots are owned by a New York surgeon named Monquidh Al-Sawaaf, who is the senior partner at Whalley Avenue Associates, a company that manages property on Whalley Avenue, including the Courtyard Marriott. Dan Charest, the operations manager of the Acre Group, the New Hartford-based property management firm that manages both properties, said that both Staples and Rite Aid terminated long-term leases. He said that Staples’ management did not want to stay in business at its present location.
“I can’t really say why they decided to close,” Charest said. “But generally, retail stores close because sales aren’t there — we certainly would’ve have liked for [Staples] to renew.”
Charest declined to give further details about Staples’ lease.
Sheila Masterson, executive director of the Whalley Avenue Special Services District, a private urban planning and consulting company, said that she did not know the reason for Staples’ move.
“We know that both Staples and Rite Aid wanted to renew their leases,” she said. “My understanding is that there was no specific factor that caused them to vacate the lot.”
Both Masterson and Charest said it was important that a new tenant is found for the lots, and that they do not have fixed views on what businesses they would like to see located there..
Masterson said that currently no contracts are in the works for either site, but acknowledged that a number of parties have expressed interest. Neither Masterson nor Charest would name the potential tenants for the sites.
Masterson explained that leasing commercial space requires a prospective tenant to complete a lot of paperwork and put in a lot of time. As a result, prospective tenants are reluctant to have their names released early in the process in case the New Haven Board of Zoning Appeals does not approve a contract or the contract falls through for other reasons, she said.
Charest stressed that his company has made it a priority to lock down a new tenant.
“We’re very concerned,” he said about the fact that the company is currently not earning any income on the soon-to-be-vacant lots. “It is our intention to talk to any interested party.”
News of the imminent vacancy at 84 Whalley Ave. surprised employees at some neighborhood businesses. Andrew Bonia, the assistant manager at the Yale Bookstore, joked that with Staples joining the growing list of shuttered businesses, there will be “no stores in New Haven.”
Of the six students interviewed, all said they had shopped at Staples and were disappointed that the store was closing.