Put on the bulldozers, Publix will come

Anticipation pervaded the room as more than 200 San Marco residents crowded into the fellowship hall at Southside Baptist Church to view renderings and learn the details about Regency Center’s plans to build a new Publix on its East San Marco property at the corner of Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard.

The project, which is vastly different than plans the company unveiled in 2017, was welcomed by an audience that mainly wondered when construction would begin. “I think it’s great. I’m happy a grocery store – any grocery store – is coming.

We are so overdue,” said Sandy Myers of San Marco. “Until I see a bulldozer, I won’t believe it. I’ve been waiting 25 or 30 years for this Publix that they’ve talked about on and off. I just love the idea of being able to walk to a grocery store.”

And Regency’s plans for their new shopping center did not disappoint. 

The business development company is planning to speed up construction as soon as possible. It applied proposals for a change in PUD zoning at the end of September and will go through permission shortly after it seeks approval for zoning.

Regency plans to send bulldozers in Spring 2020 if everything goes according to plan, said Patrick McKinley, vice president and business officer for Regency Centers. “It’s going to be on a 16-month schedule once we start the development. We hope that in the fourth quarter of 2021, the first restaurants and retailers will be open, “he said, noting that no tenants have yet been signed by Regency.

Gone is the old idea of building over retail 245 residential units, including a Publix “resort-sized,” in what would have been a soaring 77-foot “big box” building with an enclosed parking garage. Alternatively, the new plan provides a much larger conventional second-story Publix in a 50-foot-high building with a parking garage underneath the intersection of Mango Place and Atlantic Boulevard.”Before, we had a shopping area of 57,000 square feet. We are seeking 62,000 square feet of retail today. We got rid of 245 apartments and expanded our retail by 5,000 square feet, “said Hugh Mathews, CEO and Chairman of England, Thims, and Miller, Inc., who supports the initiative. “Originally we were going to put in a Publix of 28,000 square feet, a very small Publix, but now with the expanded square footage, Publix is going to go up to 40,000 square feet, like the average Publix we see in the area.”

The Publix.org will include wide second-story windows, which is rare in most grocery stores, to allow for natural light. Dining on a balcony on the second floor will be allowed inside and outside.

 A staircase and four elevators, large enough to carry three or four grocery carts and shopper will lead to the store from the parking garage, said Mathews, adding that pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to access the building on all four sides, while cars will be able to access the surface lot and parking garage from Mango Place and Alford Street. “The parking garage will be buffered, but it will look like a two-story building behind the wall along the Atlantic,” he said. “Around where the entrance to Publix is, there will be parking at nearly 360 degrees.”

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