Publix's move from the Brandon Blvd. Shoppes on the north side of State Road 60 to a newly constructed 54,000-square-foot location in the Valrico Commons Shopping Center has set off a wave of development and redevelopment at the intersection of State Road 60 and Valrico Road.
At the Commons, where Publix is now the solid anchor, Ross Stores has signed a lease to open next year in the lot that was once home to Frank's Great Outdoors. The Brandon-based yogurt chain You Say When Yogurt also is scheduled to open in mid July at the Commons.
Across the highway at the Brandon Blvd. Shoppes, the national discount chain Dollar Tree and Florida-based Mattress One celebrated their grand openings a few weeks ago. LA Fitness will arrive by year's end.
Referred to as the Overlay District by the Hillsborough County Planning Department, the area is seeing older shopping centers and a clutter of different signs that line the highway replaced with more aesthetically pleasing shopping destinations.
"Our goal is to establish an enhanced procedure for design and landscaping within the district and to ensure that the additional landscaping and building that accompanies this redevelopment will be authentic and attractive," said John Healey, a planner for Hillsborough County.
LA Fitness has signed a 15-year lease with DDR, which owns and manages retail properties, and is demolishing the old Publix building to construct a 56,000-square-foot fitness facility that will be slightly larger than the club in Brandon on Providence Lakes Boulevard near Interstate 75. Construction crews are working against a tight deadline to have the club, which will employ up to 50 people, ready by the end of the year.
LA Fitness had first contemplated the old Frank's location at Valrico Commons, but opted instead to move into the Brandon Blvd. Shoppes because of its easy access and abundance of parking. The club will sport a completely new facade and soon will install permanent signs.
"We're all about convenience. Valrico is a family-oriented community that's growing and fits the core of our company," said Bill Horner, LA Fitness' senior vice president and chief real estate officer.
LA Fitness Valrico will offer its standard amenities, including weight circuit training and cardio equipment, an indoor heated lap pool, racquetball, basketball and babysitting. The Valrico club will feature a new, stadium-style tiered cycling studio that can accommodate up to 30 bicycles, and a Zumba fitness program. On June 16, LA Fitness plans to open a storefront near the construction site that will operate daily and offer special advance membership sales.
"We're going to bring in repeat customers who will avail themselves of the other services in the center," Horner said. "Repeat customers are the lifeblood of the neighborhood."
Will Torres, store manager of Mattress One at 2016 SR 60, which once housed a Blockbuster, is hoping LA Fitness will live up to its expectations. Since Mattress One's opening in May, business has been a little slow, he said, but he's high on Valrico and thinks there's an opportunity for real growth.
It's on the way up and I can't wait for LA Fitness to move in. We can utilize each other for growth," Torres said. "There are so many good things here and so many opportunities to start seeing people."
But for Bob Patel, co-owner of Liquor & Tobacco wedged between the LA Fitness construction and the new Dollar Tree at 1942 SR 60, the sun isn't shining so brightly since Publix added a standalone 1,800-square-foot liquor store across the street next to its prototype store.
"I'm a little hurt," Patel said. "No one told me anything and I've been here as a tenant for nine years. I have a new house with a mortgage, two cars, so how can I handle this?"
Ross Dress For Less, which has a bustling store off the entrance to Westfield Brandon, signed on to open a store at Valrico Commons immediately after Publix opened, according to George Trujillo, director of sales and leasing for Primerica Group One, the property manager for Valrico Commons. Ross will occupy 26,000 square feet of the center when it's completed next June, following extensive demolition and construction of a new building and an adjacent parking lot.
Primerica has invested in the Commons, giving its facade a complete facelift, rich in Spanish-style design and architecture.
"We're trying to complement the design with the features of the Valrico area," Trujillo said. "Since we redeveloped the center, sales have gone up and our renovation has made the center very viable."
Brad Bridges, founder and CEO of You Say When Yogurt Shoppe, agreed. A 900-square-foot store with outdoor patio seating purchased by a Dover franchisee will have a soft opening in July. That will be followed by a grand opening a few weeks later offering free yogurt throughout the day.
"It's going to be premium visibility for us near Publix and we are the first in the market, Bridges said. "Valrico is perfect for us. We like being in a neighborhood and being part of a community."
Despite the construction and renovation at both centers, shoppers and residents are happy for the most part. Valrico's growth, however, is a concern to lifelong resident Wade DeHate, who notes the five residential subdivisions that have been built around Valrico Road and the resulting traffic issues.
"This isn't the same place I knew as a kid," DeHate said. "Our focus is on the nice things and not the needs. The new centers are beautiful, but I think the county can do a better job of keeping up with public services to accommodate all the growth."
Kathryn Moschella can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.