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Carrollwood, New Tampa make bid for Trader Joe’s

By Lenora Lake, Times Correspondent
Could this former grocery store at a plaza on Ehrlich Road and West Village Drive become a Trader Joeâ\u0080\u009A\u0080\u0099s one day? LENORA LAKE | Special to the times

NORTH TAMPA — Could North Tampa get two Trader Joe’s grocery stores?

It may — if some Carrollwood area and New Tampa residents, including two Hillsborough County commissioners, have their way. Just not in 2018.

A push by some in the communities is underway to bring the popular grocery stores to those areas. Currently the only Trader Joe’s in Hillsborough County is in South Tampa at 3808 S Swann Ave.

"We are trying to petition them (Trader Joe’s real estate department) heavily," said Van Chandler, community association manager of Carrollwood Village. "One of the residents had suggested it and we thought it was a great idea."

Chandler said residents have been encouraged to complete a form on the Trader Joe’s website suggesting the Carrollwood area.

Kenya Friend-Daniel, public relations director of Trader Joe’s at its corporate office in Monrovia, Calif., said there is not a North Tampa store on the list of stores to open in 2018. She could not say if North Tampa is being considered for the future expansion.

"Currently we are looking at many cities; we get many requests from all over the country," Friend-Daniel said, adding those online forms go directly to Trader Joe’s real estate department.

"It is a process they use to evaluate requests," she said. "But it is a good thing when a city wants one."

Chandler said the Carrollwood sites discussed are a former grocery store on Ehrlich Road at West Village Drive and a former Piccadilly Cafeteria on North Dale Mabry Highway.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, a northwest area resident, stated in an email that he is working with the Carrollwood Village Homeowners Associations to bring a Trader’s Joe to the Carrollwood area.

"The residents of Carrollwood are proud and passionate about their community," Hagan stated in the email. "As a result, they have submitted hundreds of emails illustrating their support for a Trader Joe’s in the Carrollwood Village area. As a Lake Magdalene resident, I know firsthand that Trader Joe’s would be an excellent complement to our community."

Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist, a New Tampa resident, said he also is trying to get Trader Joe’s to put locations in Carrollwood and New Tampa. The New Tampa store could be across from Hunter’s Green and near the New Tampa Community Center, which will be constructed in that area.

Both areas are "hubs of population," said Crist who recently sent an email to his database of constituents and others urging the email recipients to complete the Trader Joe’s form.

"We’ve gotten a tremendous response from all over to that," Crist said.

Crist said he believes former the grocery store on Ehrlich Road is a good site for a Trader Joe’s "because it is a huge building and has a big parking lot. It is a blighted shopping center now."

Bill West, president of the Carrollwood Phase 3 Home Owners Association, said the area’s residents are working with new owners of that shopping center to try to lure Trader Joe’s.

"The whole community — in Carrollwood and outside — has been sending letters," West said. "We are really happy to support it."

He said such a store would provide additional shopping opportunities while improving the aesthetics of the nearly vacant shopping plaza.

A charter school applied to have that location rezoned for use as its facility but the county commission denied the change last. year.

"That was inappropriate use (of the site) because of the traffic patterns," Crist said. "But with a Trader Joe’s, everyone wouldn’t be arriving at the same time."

Trader Joe’s was founded in 1967, in California. It was an outgrowth of a small chain of convenience stores, called Pronto Markets, started in 1958. It expanded to Florida in 2012 and is known for its own label of products and trademark Hawaiian shirts for employees.

Some Wesley Chapel area residents also have taken to social media to inquire how to get a Trader Joe’s in their community.

Contact Lenora Lake at [email protected]