SEMINOLE — For decades, mostly senior residents lived relatively peacefully in the quiet of a 550-unit mobile home park shaded by 424 oak trees.
Now the former Bay Pines Mobile Home Park is bustling with construction workers, job and home seekers, and new tenants moving in.
The hubbub will intensify this month when the new Super Walmart brings thousands of shoppers to the property at 10005 Bay Pines Blvd., across from the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center. It will replace a smaller Walmart less than 2 miles down the road at Tyrone Boulevard and Park Street in St. Petersburg. That store is scheduled to close at 6 p.m. July 15. The Seminole store will open for business at 8 a.m. July 16.
"The customers won't be without Walmart very long," store manager Marcus Sakaniwa said.
The 180 employees at the 120,000-square-foot St. Petersburg store will make the move. And Walmart will hire about 220 more employees to staff the new store of 198,000 square feet — the size of more than three football fields. Sakaniwa said the company is already hiring. Applicants should go to walmart.com to apply.
The new Walmart will be open 24 hours and have a vision center, a full grocery, a liquor store and live fish in the pet department.
While for shoppers, the big-box store is the perhaps the biggest draw, for city of Seminole officials it's only one of several components of a larger project. There's the 330-unit Courtney at Bay Pines upscale apartment complex on the northwest portion of the property. KB Homes has already sold 28 of 56 single-family homes on the northeast corner of the land. Prices start in the low $300,000s.
Seminole officials estimate the total construction costs for the homes at $9.8 million; the apartments, $17 million; and the Walmart, $8 million.
After the mobile home property changed ownership several times over the years, Kitson & Partners, a Palm Beach Gardens development company, bought the land in 2010 for $7.65 million.
It was around that time that Seminole City Council members — faced with the prospect that two large-scale properties, Bay Pines and Seminole Mall, were about to be redeveloped — decided to get a handle on development. Among other things, they created architectural standards for the city. The Bay Pines project is the first major redevelopment subject to those rules, which promote the Mediterranean Revival style. The apartments, homes and the Walmart all sport that design. The Walmart is the chain's only store in the state done in that style, but it won't be the last. The discount chain is using it as a prototype for other stores.
The standards also mandate attention to the environmental impact of such projects. Only 65 of the original oaks are left. But the lost trees will be replaced by others so that, in the end, there will be more oaks on the property than existed when the mobile home park occupied the land. The city is also requiring the planting of other trees, shrubs and palms to help make up for the loss and make the entire project more visually pleasing. City officials also required more acreage (about 10.2 acres) to be used for drainage retention than originally existed (about 4 acres).
The result, they say, is already a massive increase in taxable property value on just the portion of the property where the apartments, houses and Walmart are. That section of the overall 60 acres was worth about $4.65 million in 2012, city records show. The next year, Kitson divided that portion into three and sold them for a total of $11.2 million. At buildout, Seminole estimates those three parcels will be worth $32 million in taxable property value to the city.
It's a good example, City Manager Frank Edmunds said, to give people "a better idea what redevelopment is."
Contact Anne Lindberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450. Follow @alindbergtimes.