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NY Post
New York Post
2 Sep 2023

NextImg:Unpaid developers rage against Amazon’s ‘zombie’ stores

Cost-cutting retail behemoth Amazon is leaving a trail of unopened “zombie stores” across the country — but one Long Island family is fighting to give life to its property.

Since 2020, Amazon has opened 44 Amazon Fresh locations but also inked nearly three dozen leases that remain construction sites or are vacant — so-called “zombie” storefronts.  

In the New York City area, one zombie is at Hylan Commons at 430 New Dorp Lane in Staten Island and four others are on Long Island, including one at 2000 Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow, where the Sagliocca family development company, Salisbury Partners, signed a lease with Amazon in April 2022 for a 43,000 square-foot Amazon Fresh store.

It was to replace the Island’s first Home Depot at a mall on Hempstead Turnpike built by their grandfather, Anthony Sagliocca.  

“We were dealing with their team every week, going over their plans . . . to make them happy for months on end, and then in November 2022 they were nitpicking about things like the colors and a light,” recalled grandson Mark Sagliocca.

Mark Sagliocca, whose grandfather founded the family business.
Courtesy of Mark Sagliocca

Anthony Sagliocca

Anthony Sagliocca started the family business.
Courtesy of Mark Sagliocca

“The more I think about it, it was a stall tactic,” he said. “We could have had a building built already.”

After spending $3 million it’s still a vacant site. In January, on the verge of getting construction permits, Amazon sent two notices citing different reasons for walking away.

After the third-generation Italian family sued last March for $37 million, Amazon countered that in fact, the family now owed the e-commerce giant $250,000.

Amazon even declared its “obligations” to pay rent under the lease “have not and will never accrue.”
The parties are due in Nassau County state Supreme Court on Sept. 22.

Long Island's first Home Depot.

Long Island’s first Home Depot.

Without Amazon’s rent, the Saglioccas are in a financial pickle.

“You still have to feed the baby and with taxes and insurance we are running in the red,” Sagliocca said. “We’re not a large company that can absorb this. This is truly a David and Goliath story.”  

The Saglioccas are not alone in their fight against Jeff Bezos’ Goliath. Builders and owners with properties left in limbo are suing even as Amazon counters it’s really their fault because conditions were not met or clauses not triggered.

In Jersey City, Urban Edge Properties filed a $10 million lawsuit after sinking “millions” into an Amazon Fresh site at the Hudson Mall on Route 440. Mall owners near Philadelphia and Seattle have also sued.  

Other Long Island stores in limbo include one at 4054 Nesconset Hwy. in East Setauket; 50 Manetto Hill Rd. in Plainview; and 3017 North Ocean Ave. in Farmingville.

On Staten Island, Amazon Fresh had a conditional liquor license and awnings up by October – then nothing. The owner has not filed suit and declined comment.

Amazon’s Jessica Martin declined to comment on any ongoing litigation, saying, “Like any retailer, we periodically assess our portfolio of stores and make optimization decisions that can lead to closing existing locations or choosing not to pursue building a planned location.”

Meanwhile, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy told analysts in February, “We’re doing a fair bit of experimentation today in those [open Amazon Fresh] stores to try to find a format that we think resonates with customers.”