DADE CITY — On her ride to church last Sunday, Karen Burdine buzzed with excitement after hearing that a Publix may be coming to town.
She lives just a few miles from the location Dade City officials say the grocery store chain is eyeing — the northeast corner of U.S. 301 and Clinton Avenue.
Burdine loves the idea of a Publix appearing in Dade City as a shopping option. But she'll believe it when she sees it.
"You always hear rumors. Walmart is going here, Publix is going there. We've heard it for years," she said. "I love Publix, though, so I hope it's true."
Publix spokesman Brian West said he has not heard any information about a store opening at the intersection where an orange grove now sits.
But it's more than a rumor at City Hall, according to Dade City community development director Michael Sherman.
Sherman said he has received a preliminary layout for a commercial center that would include a 45,600-square-foot Publix, as well as two 1-acre outparcels that would also hold commercial stores.
And the city recently approved a variance allowing for more parking sought by the property owner, Perfection Partners Limited Partnership of Vero Beach. Sherman said the next step for the property will be getting a development site plan application from the owners. Once that is received it could take three or four months to approve.
Upon approval, Perfection hopes to have a store opened by this time next year, Sherman said.
Officials with Perfection's engineer, Coastal Engineering of Brooksville, declined to name possible tenants. But the property owners are aggressively working with the city to get the project through development channels, said Coastal senior vice president Don Lacey.
"The intent is to get a grocery store there," Lacey said. "It's a unique location that is being looked at as a major intersection in the area. So it's very a viable place for a business."
Sherman agreed. Pasco County has made significant upgrades to the intersection and Dade City is waiving transportation impact fees for all incoming development, two factors that make the spot particularly attractive.
"I think our demographics have gotten to where Publix is interested. It's an excellent intersection for it," Sherman said.
For Ridge Manor resident Elizabeth Stanberry, who often makes the 5-mile drive south to shop in Dade City, a Publix would be another good option for her, in addition to existing Winn-Dixie and Sweetbay stores along the U.S. 301 corridor.
"I think it's great. Give them all a little something more to compete with," she said.