CVS opens; demo of old store next
The results are in store for Longboat shoppers this Sunday.
CVS opened its newly-constructed Longboat Key store at its location across the parking lot from the old store at 7 a.m. on Aug. 5.
Longboat’s new CVS will be the only freestanding building in the new retail plaza, occupying the site once used by a Shell station.
CVS received its Certificate of Occupancy two weeks ago from the Town after the contractor, Hawkins Construction, completed the very stringent landscaping requirements successfully says Town Planner Steve Schield.
Longboat Key’s Mayor Jim Brown previously stated that the CVS must not be visible from Gulf of Mexico Drive and his words became the unofficial directive pushing the landscaping.
According to Michael DeAngelis from CVS’s corporate offices, The new store is 12,900 square feet, approximately 2,000 square feet larger than our current location. It features a double-lane drive through pharmacy window service, a healthy skin care center staffed by a beauty advisor, an expanded food department featuring fresh fruit with one-hour earlier opening times (7 a.m.)
Traveling along Gulf of Mexico Drive, residents will see a pedestrian access that has been cut through the landscaped berm on grade, so those with difficulty walking will have easy access from the sidewalk parallel to GMD and the shopping center. The access is ADA compliant.
As promised by CVS executives the project progressed rapidly, opening in advance of their projected October date.
While the new CVS store is larger, according to specifications there will be less retail space in the overall Avenue of the Flowers/Publix project than was previously available; much of which was vacant.
Over the past months, CVS was able to remain in its original old retail space in the shopping center, while Publix demolished the original grocery store and attached retail units, all the way to, but not including, CVS’s original Avenue of the Flowers space.
A number of remaining tenants were moved from their plaza frontage units to retail space in the back of the complex that was purchased by Publix’s Avenue of the Flowers Acquisition LLC from Sarasota real estate investor W. Howard Rook for $1.25 million.
The freestanding retail area under construction next to Publix will total 11,700 square feet with an allowance of up to nine separate units.
In an interview with Longboat Key News, Schield said there may be less than nine because tenants can combine more than one space. Schield said the Town is not aware of who the tenants are because the contractor is going to build out the units to the tenants’ specs.
There is a comprehensive list of commercial activities that are allowed at the retail plaza, but with a limitation of only three restaurants permitted due to parking constraints, said Schield.
Tenants that chose to relocate to the back units during construction are: White Sands Dry Cleaners owned by Denny Rudd; Nails of Longboat Key owned by Thu Hieu Nguen; as well as Your Fitness Instructor, owned by Petar Sibinic. Sibinic was able to stay in his existing location.
Anthony V’s Liquor, which closed this spring, will reopen when construction on the new plaza is complete. The store liquidated its inventory and closed for the summer in preparation for the reconstruction.
Dr. Larry Kassouf will be moving his existing Longboat Key Dental practice from Mediterranean Plaza to Avenue of the Flowers once construction is complete on the new retail space.
Old CVS comes down next
Once the new CVS opens, the next major construction activity the public will notice is the demolition of the old CVS store, which will occur over the next two weeks. Schield said the location of the old CVS store would constitute much of the parking area for the coming Publix.
“Residents will see paving, landscaping and storm water drainage put in place,” said Schield.
Existing and new tenants are looking forward to occupying the newly renovated retail space. Contributing to the excitement is a much more “pedestrian friendly” environment that encourages and promotes businesses by increasing visibility. The old plaza had a dark, imposing corridor and did not encourage foot traffic. Which merchants complained did not promote business.
“I track the sales on a monthly basis, comparing last years figures to current figures. Not surprisingly we are down, significantly over last year, however, I expect those trends will be reverse themselves and that we will be increasing business next year at this time. I really believe the renovations will make a great difference and that much of a change,” said Rudd, owner of White Sands.
Publix is ahead of schedule and at the recent Topping Off party a Publix official stated that Longboaters would be buying their Christmas groceries at the new Publix.
According to Schield, the electric and plumbing have been roughed in and in the coming days a terrazzo floor will be poured on the foundation. Schield said that Hawkins Construction, the contractor for the plaza, has “been a very professional group.”
According to Schield the Town meets with Hawkins bi-weekly to make sure there is no miscommunication.
Publix Supermarkets Inc. paid $2.35 million for its old store location and surrounding property on Longboat Key.
Avenue of the Flowers Acquisition LLC, a subsidiary of Publix subsidiary, bought the adjacent roughly 4 acres of land from Bay Isles Enclave Acquisition LLC a New Jersey company, for $1.1 million. The adjacent shopping center to the rear of the property was purchased from Sarasota real estate investor W. Howard Rooks for a recorded $1.25 million.
Bay Isles Acquisition had originally sold the land in 2006 to Enclave at Bay Isles LLC, which had at that time paid a recorded $3.25 million. Two years later the company lost the property to Bay Isles Acquisition in a foreclose judgment.
Rooks purchased the shopping center in the rear of the property in 2004 for a reported $1.4 million.