Saturday, February 24, 2018
Business

Publix on Walsingham in Largo to be demolished, replaced

LARGO — At the far southwest corner of Largo, there's a place called the Indian Rocks Shopping Center. After the holidays, some changes are coming here.

The center at Indian Rocks and Walsingham roads is anchored by a Publix that's bookended by a Bealls Outlet and a Dollar Tree. There are about 10 other businesses there as well.

Early next year, the aging Publix will be torn down. A more modern, 46,000-square-foot supermarket will rise in its place.

Publix has not announced this, but construction plans have been filed with the city.

The likely reason for the move? That Publix competes with a newer Walmart Neighborhood Market just a block away on Walsingham in what has become a bustling part of the city.

"There's a lot going on in that area. It's our gateway to the beaches," said Tom Morrissette, president of the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce. "The fact that they're putting that kind of investment into the area is a good sign."

RMC Property Group of Tampa, which owns the Indian Rocks Shopping Center, intends to reconfigure the parking and traffic flow, according to plans filed with the city.

Traffic engineers are redesigning a poorly configured bottleneck at the shopping center entrance off Indian Rocks Road, said Largo planner Tom Wojtkiw. Two years ago, a homeless woman was struck and killed by a car while standing near that entrance.

The intent is to make the shopping center more functional, with more pedestrian connections and a PSTA bus transfer station on the site, said Largo community development director Carol Stricklin.

Although the Publix will be demolished, all the other buildings in the center will remain. The Bealls and Dollar Tree on either side of the Publix will get a facelift. The plaza will get extensive new landscaping with a colonnade of trees, Wojtkiw said.

The city thinks the new Publix will be roughly the same size as the existing one. But it may be a two-story building with groceries on the first floor and offices, breakrooms and equipment on the second floor to maximize retail space, officials said. This is a newer prototype of store that the chain has been building in recent years.

Publix officials would not confirm that. Spokesman Brian West could only say that the new grocery store will include a pharmacy.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4151.

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