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Stewart’s to demolish Mill Street store, rebuild

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Stewart’s Shops has bought the former Sugarcreek Store at 508 Mill St. in Watertown, an old building that it plans to demolish to make room for a larger store and gas station.

The franchise plans to demolish the 1,700-square-foot structure in the fall, after the plan is approved by the city, to build a 3,384-square-foot store at the site. The store would be moved back from its current spot, about 50 feet to the east, to create extra space for the parking lot and gas station in front, where three pumps are planned. Sugarcreek, which previously operated four gas pumps there, removed its gas station in August because of low customer traffic.

Stewart’s bought the store and the neighboring parcel from Wilson Farms for $492,000 on Feb. 28. It’s one of the five locations in the north country the franchise bought from Wilson Farms that went up for sale in 2012; the others are in Heuvelton, Potsdam, Lake Placid and Keeseville.

Stewart’s will apply in May for a building permit from the city Planning Board for the project, which it hopes will be approved by August. The store is expected to be open by November, said Charles J. Marshall, real estate representative for the franchise.

He said the Mill Street location, which is surrounded by a residential neighborhood, is an ideal spot for Stewart’s. The store will feature four dining booths and an array of on-the-go menu items featured at most franchise locations, including a deli menu, baked goods and ice cream.

“Stewart’s is a neighborhood store, and we’re literally in the middle of a huge neighborhood here,” Mr. Marshall said. “We try to simplify things here, and our reputation is known for milk, bread, ice cream and dairy products.”

Abuzz with customer traffic since it opened in late February, the converted Stewart’s is expected to lure more local residents because of its broader offerings, said employee Brianna L. Wilt, who started at Sugarcreek in May. Ms. Wilt is one of the five Sugarcreek employees who now work for Stewart’s, which will hire up to four more part-time employees to serve its new location in the fall.

“I’m busy helping customers a lot now, but with Sugarcreek it was empty for most of the day,” Ms. Wilt said Wednesday while serving a line of customers. “I think it’s just more inviting when you walk in here now.”

News of the gas station planned by Stewart’s feels like a godsend for local couple Noah L. and Heidi M. Weaver, who live three blocks away and walked to the store Wednesday. The couple, who said they have stopped by every day since the franchise opened, ordered frozen sherbet coolers.

“We have to drive through lights to get to a gas station from where we live, and the drive through Public Square to Arsenal Street is nothing to be playing around with,” Mr. Weaver said.

The Weavers also enjoy the convenience of low-priced grocery items and on-the-go food, such as deli sandwiches and hot dogs.

“There’s now a lot more options here if you’re hungry and want a snack, or are looking for deals on milk and break,” Mrs. Weaver said.

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