Wal-Mart Finds Space On Gandy Boulevard

By MICHAEL H. SAMUELS and MARY SHEDDEN The Tampa Tribune

Published: Jun 26, 2007

TAMPA - Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, confirmed plans Monday to build a smaller, urban-style Wal-Mart Supercenter on Gandy Boulevard at Lois Avenue.

Plans for the 150,000-square-foot store could be submitted to the city in the next few weeks, company spokeswoman Quenta Vettel said. A typical Wal-Mart Supercenter is 200,000 square feet.

There is no timeline for construction or a store opening, Vettel said.

"The south Tampa market is very important to Wal-Mart," she said. "This project right now is very preliminary."

The retail giant would replace the Sticks 'N' Stuff discount furniture store and Pleasure Zone Adult Supercenter on the south side of Gandy across from Sweetbay Supermarket.

It also would redevelop the Stars Athletics, Tampa G. Manufacturing Co. and Progressive Development properties along Lois south of Gandy Boulevard.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter would include grocery, general merchandise, a pharmacy and garden center. There would be no automotive services or liquor store, Vettel said.

The wide selection of products sold at the supercenter could cause problems for nearby stores, particularly grocers who battle for market share in an industry made even more competitive by Wal-Mart.

The combined market value for the 12.99-acre site is $9.75 million, Hillsborough County property records show.

All of the properties are zoned for commercial use and would not require a special permit or city council approval to be redeveloped. Vettel said the Arkansas-based retailer has the properties under contract and will buy the land once the city approves its plan.

"It's one of the more ideal sites we have seen," Vettel said.

The nearest Wal-Mart is less than five miles from the site at 1505 N. Dale Mabry Highway. The nearest Supercenter is less than 10 miles away, at 8220 N. Dale Mabry Highway.

Wal-Mart has long been rumored to be seeking property on Gandy Boulevard. The announcement will no doubt ramp up the grocery store competition in the area. The Wal-Mart site is across the street from Sweetbay, and a Publix Super Market is less than a mile to the east.

While Publix dominates the local grocery industry, Wal-Mart and Sweetbay compete for the second spot in the Tampa/St. Petersburg market, according to an industry trade publication. The July Shelby Report ranks Publix first, with 38.6 percent of the market; Wal-Mart second, with 20.5 percent; and Sweetbay third, with 13.4 percent.

Steve Smith, Sweetbay's vice president for marketing and merchandising, said having a Wal-Mart nearby is expected.

"Competition is good," Smith said. "We compete with Wal-Mart Supercenters throughout our entire market every day, so this isn't new to us."

Al Steenson, president of the Gandy Civic Association representing the community south of Gandy, said he might have issues with the plans, specifically about traffic.

"I don't have enough information really to make a comment other than asking how big a store it's going to be," he said. "How much parking is going to be required?"

He said residents have asked for more commercial businesses south of Gandy, but he questions whether that property is the right area.

"My biggest fear is to see what kind of site plan they're going to have and what to do about the transportation issues," he said.

Reporter Michael H. Samuels can be reached at (813) 835-2109 or msamuels @tampatrib.com. Reporter Mary Shedden can be reached at (813) 259-7365 or mshedden@tampatrib.com.


http://www.tbo.com/news/money/MGBUBIHND3F.html

Back to Tampa Tribune Page. . .

Back to Home Page. . .