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Developer is making plans for Publix shopping center

A Plant City developer plans to build a small Publix shopping center at the northeast corner of Powell Road and Barclay Avenue.

On behalf of developer Windsor-Thomas Group Inc., Avid Engineering of Palm Harbor recently gave the county preliminary plans for a 54,000-square-foot shopping center anchored by a Publix grocery store.

The center, which would include about 10 tenants, would be south of Powell Middle School and west of the future Suncoast Parkway. A section of the parkway _ from Veterans Expressway in Hillsborough County to State Road 50 _ should open to traffic in 2001.

The Publix site, currently zoned for commercial use, has all the necessary water and sewer hookups, said Paul Sullivan, development and permitting manager for the county Utilities Department.

"It's a fully developable site, and it's in a prime residential area," Sullivan said, noting that the Publix would serve residents of Masaryktown, Pristine Place, Springwood Estates and Silverthorn.

It would also cater to future commuters, he said.

"You've got the Suncoast expressway coming right through there. . . . People come home from work in Tampa and they can stop by the Publix. It's very smart."

When the proposed Publix will open is uncertain. The Lakeland-based grocery store chain has five stores in Hernando County.

Engineering plans submitted to the county's Utilities Department do not say when construction might begin.

A representative of Avid Engineering referred calls to Windsor-Thomas Group president Tom Sash. Neither he nor Publix spokeswoman Jennifer Bush could be reached for comment Tuesday.

If Windsor-Thomas gets all of the necessary permits, construction could begin within six months, Sullivan said.

Whether Publix or the developer chooses to do so is another question. It was several years before developers of Lakewood Plaza on U.S. 19, which includes a Publix store, acted on their approved site plans, said Shirley Vonada, commercial real estate broker with Pat Fleck Real Estate in Spring Hill.

"If they are applying for something to do (construction) right now, that would surprise me," Vonada said.

Last week, Winn-Dixie opened its 55,000-square-foot Marketplace at U.S. 19 and Trenton Avenue. Wal-Mart will open a Supercenter at State Road 50 and Mariner Boulevard sometime in the fall. Sembler Co. intends to add more than 20,000 square feet to Lakewood Plaza, at U.S. 19 and Lake-in-the-Woods Boulevard.