The big vacant building on Kennedy Boulevard and Rome Avenue is slated for a facelift that would give neighbors grocery shopping options.
The North Hyde Park Neighborhood Association is welcoming plans for a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market at 1610 W Kennedy Blvd. The grocery store will give residents an alternative to the Publix on Bayshore Boulevard.
City Council members unanimously approved a wet zoning request last week, allowing for the sale of alcohol at the proposed store. The vote was the final approval Wal-Mart needed from the City Council to proceed with its plans.
The store, which has been in consideration since the spring of 2007, will probably open in early 2009 in a 60,000-square-foot building previously occupied by Winn-Dixie and SaveRite. Unlike the company's larger big box stores and supercenters, the neighborhood market will be smaller and sell mostly groceries and pharmaceuticals with some general merchandise.
"This is something the consumer likes," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Quenta Vettel. "It's set up to be an easy in and easy out for someone who doesn't want to do large grocery shopping."
Wal-Mart was required to get approval from nearby residents, churches and business owners to incorporate a 2,700-square-foot liquor section inside the store. Council member John Dingfelder, who represents residents in the North Hyde Park area, said he and police had no objections to the sale of alcohol in the store and have not received complaints from residents about the wet zoning request.
Civic association president Robert Allen said he has no qualms with a grocery store at this location.
"We were sad when Winn-Dixie left and have wanted to see another store come in ever since," he said. "We're overjoyed by Wal-Mart coming in."
Wal-Mart has a 15-year lease on the property owned by the California company Artesia Medical Development.
The company is still finalizing plans on a Wal-Mart Supercenter at Gandy Boulevard and Lois Avenue in the Sun Bay South neighborhood. The store on Kennedy would be the third neighborhood market in Tampa.
Eric Smithers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3339.