Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets Inc. is presenting renovation ideas for its Longboat Key shopping center and Avenue of the Flowers.
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson told the Longboat Observer the town has been in active dialogue with Publix officials over the last couple of weeks.
“The Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board will receive an application from Publix for review in the coming months,” Simpson said.
In the next month, Simpson expects to hold pre-application conferences with the company to help it formulate a plan for the property before an official application is submitted to the town.
“We met with them (Publix officials) and gave them some of our suggestions and concerns,” Simpson said.
Former Longboat Key Mayor George Spoll, current chairman of the Longboat Key Revitalization Task Force, and others have pushed for a Publix renovation proposal that includes a plaza that’s more modern and would include a variety of both residential and commercial uses. Avenue of the Flowers is believed to be the future gateway of a town-center concept along Bay Isles Road.
Spoll, who has had discussions with Publix officials and was observed driving around the site last week taking notes, declined to comment regarding a pending Publix application.
When asked to comment on a pending proposal, Simpson also declined.
“What they (Publix) bring forward is ultimately what they want to do,” Simpson said.
Publix could submit an official application to the town in September, but neither Publix officials nor town employees could confirm when a pending application would be submitted.
Publix spokesperson Shannon Patten said the company is still in its pre-planning stages in regard to the plaza.
“At this time, we do not have any new information,” Patten said. “We are still exploring all options and have not finalized our plans.”
Publix purchased Town Plaza I of Avenue of the Flowers, which contains approximately 100,000 square feet of overall building space, Sept. 10, 2008, from Dead River Properties Inc. for $14 million.
The plaza’s current tenants include Prudential Palms Realty, Patchington, Antony V’s Packaged Wines and Spirits, Nails of Longboat Key, CVS Pharmacy and White Sands Cleaners.
Currently the plaza is more than half-empty. Patten declined to provide square footage vacancy numbers for the plaza.
Avenue of the Flowers Town Plaza II, which sits behind the main plaza and also includes the former Mattison’s Steakhouse at the Plaza, is owned by Howard Rooks.
Rooks said previously that Publix has not approached him for his portion of the plaza.
Although expanding the Longboat Key Publix could be difficult with the current outline of Town Plaza I, some past Publix projects have included:
• A Carrabba’s Italian Market at the University Walk Publix, in Sarasota, in conjunction with a Carrabba’s Italian Grill that resides at the Publix-owned plaza.
• Publix Pix gasoline-convenience stores.
• Publix Liquors, which are stand-alone liquor stores that must have a separate entrance, as required by local laws. Currently, all Publix Pix and Publix Liquors locations are adjacent to a Publix.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].