A long vacated auto dealership on Hillsborough Avenue in East Tampa is about to get a new tenant -- a brand new Walmart Super Center.
The store will be under construction at 1720 E. Hillsborough Ave. by spring, according to Walmart
representatives. Based on an estimated construction schedule of 10 to 12 months, the Super Center is expected to open by the middle of 2015.
The approximately 120,000-square-foot discount store will be built on the site of the former Abraham Chevrolet auto dealership, which closed several years ago. What would be next for the approximately 12-acre parcel has been the subject of much speculation among neighborhood residents in East Tampa and Seminole Heights.
In December Walmart representatives met with residents at the monthly meeting of the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership. The volunteer group works with city planners to craft strategies to end blight within the East Tampa redevelopment area that is bordered by Hillsborough, Interstates 4 and 275 and the city limits.
The store falls within an overlay district that has design guidelines, unique to Seminole Heights, to govern new construction. As a result the store's traditional look will be tweaked.
Instead of a sea of pavement for parking in the front, the new building will be situated closer to the street. Customers will park along the side and rear of the Super Center. Other features will include a "living wall" of trees and other landscaping along Hillsborough. Residents also were told the store's facade will have double-paned windows with opportunities for showcased merchandise similar to traditional window displays at department stores.
Prior to construction, the old auto showroom and dealership service bays will be torn down.
The new store will be smaller than most Super Centers, which generally are about 180,000 square feet, according to Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz. Customers will be able to shop for groceries, including fresh produce, meats, deli items and bakery goods, plus merchandise typically sold at the discount chain store. There also will be a pharmacy with a drive-up window.
There will be no garden center and no tire and lube express.
Wertz anticipates the store will provide employment for about 200 people.
The store's property stretches from 15th Street next to Harris Veterinary Hospital to 19th Street across from McDonald's restaurant. Walmart plans to install a traffic signal at Hillsborough and 19th. The Florida Department of Transportation, which oversees the state road, recently gave its approval for the traffic light.
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Bill Wertz, Walmart