Vacant grocery on Divinity slated for new purpose

By KAITLYN NAPLES
STAFF WRITER
The building at 350 Divinity St., where Pat’s Market Place once operated, won’t be a vacant for much longer.
The property has been empty for close to 10 years, the city’s Economic Developer Jonathan Rosenthal said, and about two months ago a New Jersey company bought the property and plans to bring business to that site.
Divinity Holdings LLC, a company from New Jersey, bought the property and plans to have its first tenant, which is going to be Dollar General, opened by the end of March.
Jonathan Vogel, owner of Solomon Builder LLC, said he found the property through an agency and when he saw the property he noticed it needed a little work, to say the least.
“It was vandalized, the copper and metal and infrastructure was either torn out or destroyed,” Vogel said. “We were basically starting with a shell.”
Vogel, who said he bought the property for less than replacement cost, met with the mayor, and Rosenthal, and said their encouragement and assistance has been extremely helpful. He said he received input from both parties on what the town would like to see, as well as input from the West End Association.
“They said residents would like to see a Dunkin’ Donuts,” Vogel said, so he is working with Bill Ghio, a local franchiser of Dunkin Donuts, to see if he would take on a spot at the new Divinity Street establishment.
Vogel said there is currently 15,000 square feet vacant and open to vendors, while Dollar General has already claimed 10,000 square feet in the middle portion of the building. He said he has contacted numerous local businesses and will continue to reach out to them, as well as other companies, to fill the space.
“We are going to fix it up and make it look good so that area residents can be proud of it,” Vogel said.
The property is also across the street from Muzzy Field, which Vogel said is an added bonus to bring business into that establishment, and should clean up the area more.
“I’m hoping people will really like it and keep it viable,” he said.
Rosenthal said that with the right tenants, the area can be revitalized a little.
“They are really working hard to get a good number of tenants and find the right tenants,” Rosenthal said, adding that Divinity Street is a bit off the beaten track. However, it runs parallel with Route 72, which is heavily traveled.
Dave Hamelin, treasurer of the West End Association, said he met with the developer two months ago, and the association is “excited to see this long vacant property put to use and we welcome them into the neighborhood,” he said in an email. “We also hope that this will encourage development of the rest of the parcel that they do not control (and faces Park Street) to be developed as it is directly across from Rockwell Park and would make a great consolidated unit of businesses.”
Dollar General, which is not a dollar store, sells everything from cleaning products, medicine, beauty supplies, baby clothes and products, apparel, toys, some grocery items and more. Vogel said Dollar General operates like “a small Target or a Walgreens/CVS without the pharmacy.”

An artist’s rendering of what the Divinity Street property is expected to look like when renovations are complete.