ST. PETERSBURG — A specialty grocery store soon could move in to the Cocoanut Grove shopping center, which has sat vacant since October.
City building officials have approved a site plan submitted by the Fresh Market grocery store chain. The plan calls for renovating the shopping center at 2900 Fourth St. N and constructing an 18,500-square-foot store.
The Greensboro, N.C., company does not have any stores in St. Petersburg, but has two locations in Tampa and one each in Clearwater and University Park. Overall, the company has 88 stores in 17 states, mostly in the Southeast.
Founded in 1982, the Fresh Market stores focus on perishable products such as meat, produce and bread. Customers can pour themselves a free cup of coffee while they shop.
A spokeswoman for the Fresh Market could not immediately confirm plans for the new store.
Dave Goodwin, St. Petersburg's economic development director, was buoyed by the news that Cocoanut Grove has found a new tenant.
"That's very encouraging, and it speaks to the strength of the Fourth Street market," he said. "We've always thought that in terms of a specialty grocery store, that area was under-served."
Goodwin noted that Cocoanut Grove "has struggled over the years."
"It always had high turnover and high vacancy rate," he said. "It's just a concept that never worked."
Reached last week before the name of the new store was known, property owner Thomas Hall said "there's some things in the works," but would not elaborate about the new store.
Hall could not be reached this week for details.