ST. PETERSBURG — Five years of speculation are over. The Publix on Fourth Street at 38th Avenue N, almost across the street from the Publix at Northeast Park Shopping Center, will close Dec. 28.
Ever since the Lakeland-based grocer acquired the seemingly redundant location when it bought 49 Albertsons markets in 2008, customers have wondered how long two big stores at the same intersection would coexist.
Apparently the corner of Fourth Street and 38th Avenue N offers enough business to keep both stores going strong. Publix is closing the store many nicknamed "Publixons" only to tear it down and rebuild a new Publix.
"It will not be an LA Fitness. It won't be a Walmart. It won't be another grocery chain. It will be a Publix," said company spokesman Brian West, referring to rumors swirling around the location.
When Publix first bought the Albertsons many speculated it would be converted into a Greenwise Market, the company's concept focusing on healthier and organic products. West says that is not the case, and in fact Publix is no longer opening such stores.
"It will be a traditional Publix store," he said, but didn't know the size at this point. "That particular location was a tired location. It just needed to be rebuilt."
When sites and demand allow, some new Publix stores are being built with a drive-through pharmacy.
"That is possible (for the new store) but I don't have the information on it yet,'' West said. "I would imagine that it would be a good location for one just because of the volume of business it is doing."
It typically takes nine months to build a new Publix, but since tearing down an old store is involved, it could take longer.
"A safe guess (for an opening date) will be late 2014," West said.
So for the customers who are devotees of the "Publixons" because of its less-crowded parking lot and shorter checkout lines, brace yourselves to join the increased masses on the east side of Fourth Street.
In the five states where Publix operates, this is the only location where two stores are so close to each other. The stores are so close, in fact, that if a shopper finds one is out of a certain product, a Publix employee will go to the other store and fetch it.
Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8785.