WESTPORT — Plans for an Amazon Fresh supermarket, unveiled two years ago for a Post Road East shopping center, have been shelved, but another supermarket chain — Big Y — plans to take over the spot.

Alix Field, owner of the Post Plaza shopping center at 1076 Post Road East, on Tuesday confirmed the site will instead be home to a Big Y supermarket. 

“I’m excited. I think they have a great concept,” Field told the Westport Journal. “They’re a family business and they’re from New England.” Big Y, headquartered in Massachusetts, has nearly 80 supermarkets, based primarily in that state and Connecticut. Its stores nearest to Westport are in Stratford, Monroe and Shelton. 

Field called Big Y “a strong supermarket that does things a little bit differently,” and believes town residents will like the new store.

Two Volta electric vehicle charging stations have been installed outside the Amazon Fresh store under construction at the Post Plaza. / Photo by Thane Grauel.
The space planned for an Amazon Fresh supermarket at 1076 Post Road appeared to remain untouched for about 18 months after the space initially was gutted in preparation for the new store. One of the large electric-vehicle charging stations with advertising screens — installed in violation of local zoning regulations — stands in front of the building. / File photo

“It will be a nice addition to the town of Westport,” she said.

The Amazon lease at the shopping center has been taken over by Big Y, Field said, adding that she and her family couldn’t be happier. “No property owner wants their property to be idle,” she said of the long-vacant site planned for the Amazon Fresh store. 

Field said she looks forward to the Big Y opening, but is not yet certain when that will be.

In a later statement, Big Y officials said the Westport site — and two others where the business bought out the leases Tuesday — “has been carefully scrutinized by Big Y teams in order to assess how soon they can take over these spaces to convert and remodel them into Big Y supermarkets, which could start as early as within 4 to 6 months depending upon equipment lead times.”

Michael D’Amour, Big Y’s president and CEO, said in the statement, ”All of us at Big Y are excited about the opportunity to enter into these communities with our unique fresh and local foods along with our exceptional and knowledgeable employees. These locations fit nicely within our current store footprint.”

The local site for an Amazon Fresh store, part of a new chain launched by the online retail behemoth, has remained dormant at 1076 Post Road East for about 18 months after the space was gutted in preparation for the food outlet.

Similar “zombie” sites of stalled plans to open Amazon Fresh stores have been reported around the country.

Amazon had encountered initial resistance to its planned opening in Westport over the size and design of its distinctive “smiling arrow” sign from neighbors, as well as the town’s Architectural Review Board.

The project also ran afoul of local zoning officials when two electric-vehicle charging stations — featuring large advertising screens — were installed in front of the planned market after the parking lot was repaved.

That violation of local zoning regulations remained unaddressed for months.

Crews had worked to re-outfit the shopping center’s former Barnes & Noble store, revamping the facade and rebuilding the parking lot and entrances for the Amazon Fresh concept in grocery shopping — a no-checkout experience, with electronic sensors tabulating what the shopper purchases and the bill sent electronically.

The local delays were blamed on the parent company’s re-assessment of the Amazon Fresh concept, with reports of other delayed plans to open new stores in the upstate town of Brookfield and across the country.

Amazon also owns the Whole Foods supermarket chain, which has a local store at 399 Post Road West.

Big Y Foods Inc. is one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England, according to the company’s statement. In addition to Big Y supermarkets, it operates Table & Vine Fine Wines and Liquors and Big Y Express gas and convenience locations, with more than 10,000 employees.

Gretchen Webster and Thane Grauel contributed to this report, written by John Schwing.