Grocer will take over site formerly occupied by SweetBay Supermarkets
Ending years of speculation, Publix Super Markets Inc. has confirmed plans to relocate a Sarasota location to a new store within the Town & Country shopping center.
Benderson Development Co., which acquired the former SweetBay and Kash N’ Karry store after the former shuttered dozens of outlets along the Gulf Coast six years ago, says it is preparing to demolish the existing grocery shell at 501 N. Beneva Road.
In recent weeks, the Manatee County-based developer has erected fencing around the former SweetBay in the center’s parking lot. Mark Chait, Benderson’s executive director of leasing, says the fencing is necessary preparation for the demolition, which will take months to complete.
Brian West, a Publix spokesman, says no definitive timeline has been established for the opening of the new store.
“We know it will be about 48,000 (square feet) and will include a Pharmacy,” West says in an email to the Business Observer. “There will also be an adjacent liquor store.”
Publix currently operates a store within the Sarasota Commons shopping center roughly one quarter mile away from Town & Country Plaza.
Max Puyanic, the CEO of Commodore Realty Inc., the Key Biscayne-based company that owns Sarasota Commons, did not return a telephone call for comment on the pending move.
Commodore’s other major Sarasota holding, the Sarasota Crossings shopping center at Fruitville Road and Honore Avenue, also is anchored by a Publix.
Town & Country Plaza has been in the midst of a resurgence over the past two years, spurred on by the loss of SweetBay, Kmart and others that left a Bealls as the property’s lone anchor.
Gator Investments, a Miami Lakes company that owns the majority of Town & Country Plaza, has brought in Planet Fitness and Big Lots! since 2018 in an effort to rehabilitate the center.
But Publix would represent an even bigger step forward, drawing thousands of shoppers weekly to the property.
“It will make for a much better, more unified shopping center,” Chait says of Publix. “It’ll really help the property and serve a lot of the neighborhoods around there. It’s a very nice location.”
Town & Country Plaza marks the latest in a growing list of collaborations by Benderson, one of the largest retail landlords in the U.S.
Most recently, the company teamed with Westfield Southgate owner Westfield Corp. to convert the mall into more a lifestyle center. Benderson converted a former Dillards Department store at the mall into a Lucky’s Market, while Westfield focused on adding a handful of restaurants — two of which have since closed — to the mall.