Make us your home page
Instagram

Publix lined up for long-vacant Nielsen site in Dunedin

DUNEDIN — The long-vacated Nielsen property that Dunedin officials had hoped would draw a large corporation to the city is instead on track to become home to a Publix store.

Final plans aren't in, but public records reveal that developers have appeared before the city's Development Review Committee to seek the city staff's guidance on potential plans to open a 39,000-square-foot Publix at 375 Patricia Ave. by 2014.

That's a "disappointment" for Pinellas County economic development officials who had counted on the land yielding a big economic boost for the region.

It also has upset several residents who have heard the development rumors and already protested to City Hall about the potential impact on other grocers or neighborhood traffic.

Dunedin officials, however, say the proposed store would bring jobs and convenience for residents, help generate revenue for surrounding merchants, and combat the deterioration and vandalism that's steadily turning the vacant property into an eyesore.

"The property's been dormant for nearly 10 years and it's really strained the other businesses on Patricia, especially restaurants," said City Manager Rob DiSpirito. "I think having some activity there will generate a lot of consumer traffic and make this a destination again."

According to the committee's Oct. 25 minutes, the meeting was attended by two representatives with Paradise Ventures, a Safety Harbor company that specializes in the development and third-party management of real estate for retail, including Publix and Walgreens. They and city officials discussed items including parking, drainage and landscaping.

So far, the developer has only been in talks with the city and has yet to submit an official site plan or architectural renderings.

City officials said the store is envisioned as the anchor in a complex that would house other retail, as well as potential restaurants or a bank on outlying parcels located along Patricia Avenue.

Paradise Ventures would purchase about 16 or 17 acres of the roughly 22.5-acre tract, formerly occupied by Nielsen Media Research and Bright House Networks, from Wells Fargo, said Dunedin economic development director Bob Ironsmith.

Publix, he said, would lease a 12-acre portion of that to include the store and, according to meeting minutes, 205 parking spaces. Based on market conditions, Ironsmith said, the retailer is also considering renting three office buildings of 5,000 square feet each that would be built to the north of the property as part of a second phase.

Aside from what Paradise is buying, Wells Fargo owns 5 acres and the city owns 1 acre of the 22.5-acre parcel.

If Paradise Ventures and Publix go forward with their plans, the Patricia property's zoning would have to be changed from light industrial/office to retail. The immediate neighborhood would be notified and public hearings before the local planning agency and City Commission would be required.

Neither Paradise Ventures nor Publix representatives responded to requests for comment.

The proposed Publix represents a departure from earlier plans for the former Nielsen site, which sits along a corridor that city officials had cited as a target for major redevelopment over the next decade.

In 2005, Nielsen, known for its TV ratings service, moved 1,600 employees from Dunedin to Oldsmar and sold the biggest single property in the city to prominent Pinellas developer Grady Pridgen. But after years of Pridgen failing to repay loans or back taxes, Wachovia and then Wells Fargo took the complex and listed it for sale.

Dunedin and Pinellas County economic development officials immediately focused on attracting another high-wage company in industries like financial services, life sciences and health, alternative energy or information technology — sectors that don't necessarily rely on close proximity to airports or major vehicular arteries. Officials also touted the surrounding residential area's large labor pool as a potential draw.

But officials say a number of factors — including the Nielsen building's high original listing price and large size, outdated interior architecture, repair and replacement needs — made it a tough sell.

They say Wells Fargo got the ball rolling when it acquired the 22.5-acre property and agreed to break it into three parcels.

"We spent considerable time and energy trying to get a corporation to locate its headquarters here and nothing panned out," Ironsmith said. "This (Publix) opportunity became more feasible and still will create quite a bit of jobs and economic value to the city. I wouldn't want to see the property lay vacant for another five years."

Pinellas economic development director Mike Meidel called the tentative plans "a disappointment" but acknowledged Dunedin's valiant effort and difficulties.

A Publix might meet the needs and goals of the city and its residents, however, "economic development is targeted at bringing in high-wage companies that sell products or have their market outside the area, whereas a grocery store or retailer would tend to recycle within the community," Meidel said. "It doesn't increase the prosperity for the entire county or the region."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at ksummers@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4153.

Publix lined up for long-vacant Nielsen site in Dunedin 12/06/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 7:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Toys 'R' Us files for bankruptcy but keeps stores open (w/video)

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Toys 'R' Us, the big box toy retailer struggling with $5 billion in debt and intense online competition, has filed for bankruptcy protection ahead of the key holiday shopping season — and says its stores will remain open for business as usual.

    Shoppers shop in a Toys R Us store on Black Friday in Miami in 2016. Toys R Us, the pioneering big box toy retailer, announced late Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while continuing with normal business operations. [Associated Press]
  2. Trigaux: Waiting for your next pay raise? Keep dreaming, employers hint

    Working Life

    The economy's bouncing back. The stock market keeps hitting new records. And the jobless rate in Florida may soon drop below 4 percent. Surely, these are robust indicators — key signs that an annual raise is just around the corner. Right?

    Who doesn't want a pay raise? Demonstrators have rallied for years in a number of states for a $15 minimum wage. But many workers across a broad pay range are unlikely to see much if any raises this year, a new survey says. [AP Photo/Seth Wenig]
  3. Florida Guard scales down troop strength; Navy sails away from the Keys

    State Roundup

    The Florida National Guard on Monday drew down its activated statewide forces to about 1,200 on-duty troops, mostly in operations focused on relief distribution in the Florida Keys — and the last of a mini-armada of U.S. Navy ships off Key West set sail for home.

    Soldiers from the Florida National Guard's Delta Company, 1st Battallion, 124th Infantry, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team on Sept. 14. The Federal Emergency Managment Agency has reported that 25-percent of all homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed and 65-percent sustained major damage when they took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma.  [Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images]
  4. LOCALE Market hosting St. Pete job fair for hospitality positions

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — Locale Market / FarmTable Kitchen is hosting a hospitality job fair Tuesday in St. Petersburg. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LOCALE Market at 179 2nd Ave. North, St. Petersburg. Organizers said they hope to hire about 20 workers with a focus on displaced workers from Hurricane …

    Locale Market is hosting job fair on Tues., Feb. 19. [LARA CERRI | Times] 

  5. So far, 335,000 Irma claims totalling $1.95 billion filed in Florida

    Business

    Times Staff Writer

    As of Sunday afternoon, insurers had received a total of 335,347 claims statewide for insured damage totalling $1.95 billion caused by Hurricane Irma, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reported Monday based on preliminary figures.

    This shows a damaged mobile home inside Clover Leaf Farms RV Park in Brooksville. So far, insurers have received a total of 335,347 claims statewide for insured damage totalling $1.95 billion caused by Hurricane Irma.
[MEGAN REEVES   |   Times]