For more than a year, developers have been negotiating with Walmart to place a new Neighborhood Market grocery store at one of the area’s busiest intersections, Dale Mabry Highway and Hillsborough Avenue. Now, the deal is done and the project is starting.
The City of Tampa this week approved demolition and construction permits for the project at the northeast corner of that intersection, at 3671 W. Hillsborough Avenue, in a strip center called Green House Shoppes. Plans call for taking down the now-vacant TGIFriday restaurant and most of the adjacent retail strip slots to make way for the new, 41,000 square foot Walmart. If construction goes according to plan, the new grocery store could open in early 2015.
The overall site plan also calls for taking down the now-vacant Mirage nightclub that was often a site of police action in recent years.
Like other grocery giants, Walmart has been looking to redevelop existing, often run-down sites in busy areas, as developers more often view that approach as more viable than building so-called greenfield sites in brand new subdivisions. For developers, such existing-yet-dormant sites hold appeal as adding a national-brand grocery stores can serve as an anchor tenant that will provide predictable cash flow, and a notable draw for other shops next door.
That exactly fits the profile of the “Green House Shoppes” property, and as recently as last September, Walmart had been talking with property owners about a roughly 40,000 square foot Neighborhood Market grocery store, roughly on par in size to the average Publix, and just down the street from a recently closed Sweetbay supermarket.
Typically, Walmart plans for a store of some type about every three miles in a market as dense as the Tampa Bay area. That’s one reason the company plans a much larger Supercenter location a few miles east on Hillsborough Avenue in Seminole Heights.
“We’re very excited about the project and about a Walmart to anchor it,” said Brian Kosoy, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Sterling Organization that manages the site and is organizing the redevelopment. “We’re negotiating with national and regional tenants to be adjacent, and Walmart was a big catalyst to bring other great tenants.”