A $3 million grocery store renovation is underway inside a former Winn-Dixie at the edge of Safety Harbor and Clearwater.
And it might be an Amazon Fresh.
Plans filed with the city of Safety Harbor suggest the e-commerce giant may be behind the reinvention of the 35,000-square-foot store that closed last summer at 2519 N McMullen Booth Rd. in the Northwood Oaks shopping center.
Initial architectural plans refer to the project as “Mendel” — a code name that has been used for Amazon Fresh stores in development across the country, according to media reports and public records. The proposed exterior signage — a large central banner with a three-tiered sign to one side — matches the designs at several existing stores. And a canopy above the front door is slated to be painted “Sherwin Williams electric lime green,” the exact same shade as other Amazon Fresh stores.
In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said: “Amazon doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation.”
The property is owned by a limited liability corporation called ECA Elle Northwood Partners. Reached by phone Friday, a company representative declined to comment, saying the project was confidential.
The store sits in a strip mall that’s also home to a Bonefish Grill, Pizza Hut and Dollar Tree, among other businesses. It sits across McMullen Booth Road from a Publix. Spokespeople for other grocery store chains, including Aldi, Trader Joe’s and Sprouts, said they were not developing a store at that address.
“Amazon Fresh” is a concept better known for same-day grocery delivery, with the service expanding in Tampa Bay in late 2019. But Amazon in 2020 made it the name of their new physical store chain, which features Alexa-enabled tech for making lists and finding products, and touch-free, line-free checkout options linked to your Amazon account. The stores feature most everything you’d find in a normal grocery, including meats, produce and baked goods; and all accept cash and SNAP benefits.
There are currently 25 Amazon Fresh stores around the country, most of them in California and Illinois, and none in Florida. The stores stand separate from Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired in 2017, although they incorporate features that have become common at Whole Foods stores, such as the ability to return packages purchased from Amazon.
Another Amazon Fresh is reportedly close to opening in Boca Raton, according to media in South Florida.