PINELLAS PARK — Construction has begun to transform the former Albertsons to a Publix supermarket, which will be a boon to job hunters as well as shoppers.
The new Publix, at Park Boulevard and 49th Street N, will replace the Publix across the street in the Park Plaza Shopping Center. The projected opening date is early next year.
The project will require that the interior of the former Albertsons will be gutted and the outside painted. The cost of the transformation is estimated at $2.5 million.
It's all part of a 2008 deal in which Publix bought 49 Albertsons in Central and North Florida. That deal, estimated at $500 million, included 17 in the Tampa Bay area.
Some of the transformed stores, such as the one at 3700 Fourth St. N in St. Petersburg, have already reopened. Others, like the one at 7880 113th St. N in Seminole, are undergoing a transformation.
Some of the existing Publixes are remaining open even if they are across from a renovated Albertsons. That's the case with the Fourth Street Publix, which is across from one in the Northeast Shopping Center.
Others, like the Publix in Seminole Mall, will close when the new store opens. That's what will happen to the Park Plaza Publix, said Shannon Patten, spokeswoman for the chain.
"It's pretty much a seamless transition," Patten said.
The old Publix will close on a Wednesday night at the regular time. The next morning, the new Publix will open at the normal time.
"We do not transfer any of the products, but we do transfer the majority of the associates," Patten said.
When the new store opens, shoppers will find a Publix that's more than 50 percent bigger than the existing one — 58,150 square feet vs. 34,869 square feet. The larger area gives Publix a chance to provide more products and services, including a lobster tank, a full-service meat counter and fresh sushi, none of which are offered in the Park Plaza store.
The larger store also means Publix will be hiring, although it's unclear how many new employees will be taken on. It depends in part on how many workers from the existing store want to transfer over, Patten said.
"They get first dibs," she said.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at (727) 893-8450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.