The stores tucked back in The Landings Plaza are hard to spot from U.S. 41. And the recent closure of some smaller storefronts within the plaza and a Circuit City in the adjacent plaza has hurt business traffic in the area during the last decade, storeowners say.
But a Publix supermarket has been a bright spot for the South Tamiami Trail plaza during the past three years.
Now, fellow tenants and storeowners in the plaza, who have been struggling with shuttered storefronts, slower business and a lack of visibility, hope that a $1.5 million renovation of the supermarket will offer a boost in customer traffic.
Meg Sotelo, co-owner of the Peaches restaurant located four storefronts down from Publix, smiled when she heard that the grocery anchor has a building permit for the renovation.
“It’s already had a good effect,” Sotelo said about the Publix supermarket that replaced Albertson’s as the plaza’s anchor three years ago.
Sotelo said she gets a good portion of customers who take notice of the restaurant as they leave Publix.
“We’ve been here six years, and we still get people who will come in and say, ‘We didn’t know you were here,’” Sotelo said. “They went to Publix and saw us.”
Two stores down, at Volpe Salon & Spa, owner Kathy Jo Miles said she is also looking forward to the supermarket’s remodel.
Miles said the Publix isn’t as busy as some of the other newer stores in the area, and she hopes that a remodel will bring more customers from nearby neighborhoods.
“It’s not fancy, appearance-wise,” the salon owner said. “If they can bring it up to the standard of the other Publix stores, that would help a lot.”
Publix plans to begin the renovation sometime this year with work expected to take two to three months, said Shannon Patten, media-and-community relations manager for Publix Super Markets, Inc.
The supermarket’s interior has been left relatively untouched since it moved into the space after Publix Super Markets Inc.’s purchase of 49 Florida Albertsons stores. The upcoming retrofit will update the space to better resemble Publix’s traditional line of grocery stores. The deli, bakery and other departments will be reconfigured. There will also be an expansion of the selection of the natural, organic and earth-friendly items.
Perhaps the best news for storeowners and current Publix customers is that the supermarket will remain open during the renovation, with the most extensive construction occurring during the store’s off hours.
“This is a tough plaza,” Sotelo said.
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