A St. Petersburg Publix opening this weekend kicks off a string of new stores from Lakeland-based chain arising across Tampa Bay.St. Petersburg’s aging Disston Plaza Publix, which was torn down last fall, will reopen at 7 a.m. Saturday. A week later, a rebuilt Hudson Publix will open, too. The long-anticipated Publix on the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus at the intersection of Fletcher Avenue and USF Palm Drive may open before the year’s end, according Publix spokesman Brian West, followed by another Tampa location not long after."We really enjoy welcoming our customers at our grand openings," West said. "There’s a lot of excitement in the air."The aging St. Pete Publix that once sat at 3501 49th St. N opened in 1961. The new one built in its place is about 4,000-square-feet larger at 45,600-square-feet and still includes a pharmacy like the original store. Hudson’s former Publix at the Tower Oaks Terrace shopping center was once an Albertsons. The store was repurposed after Publix bought dozens of Alberstons locations a decade ago. The Pasco County store, also 45,600-square-feet, will have an adjacent liquor store.The first few hundred customers at each store’s grand opening will get a free gift, usually a reusable bag, West said. The stores will have sampling stations and hand out promotional bags with free goodies inside as customers leave.Further down the pipeline, but not far off, is a 28,000-square-foot Publix at the University of South Florida. West said while an official date hasn’t been set, the store is on track to open in December. So, students could have easy access to chicken tender "Pub subs" by the start of the spring semester. Another long-awaited Tampa site is also moving along. The Channel District Publix attached to the 23-story Channel Club apartments is slated to open between January and March.Earlier coverage: Publix’s first GreenWise 2.0 opens in October and it seems a lot like Lucky’s MarketAlso in the works is a store at the former Sports Authority in Tampa’s Westshore business district. Publix had planned to repurpose the site but decided to demolish it and build an entire new store. West said no date has been set for its opening, but the soonest would be ate 2019.The familiar green banners are popping up just south of Tampa Bay as well:A new Publix opened in Manatee County on Thursday and another in Sarasota County will open next week.In September alone, Publix will open a total of five Florida stores and one in North Carolina.Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.