Walmart plans to open a new store in the recently vacated Sweetbay grocery at the Tangerine Plaza in the Midtown neighborhood of St. Petersburg in early 2014.
St. Petersburg city officials and Urban Development Solutions say Walmart will be occupying the existing 39,000-square-foot store as a neighborhood market store.
Introduced in 1998, Walmart's Neighborhood Market format is one-quarter of the size of a typical Walmart Supercenter. With a floor area of about 40,000 square feet, market stores are smaller and cater to a limited catchment area such as a neighborhood or a group of neighborhoods.
"Since Sweetbay left, the surrounding neighborhood did not have any full service grocery store within walking distance, making it extremely inconvenient for its residents,'' says Beth Herendeen, City of St. Petersburg
Located at 22nd St. S. and 18th Ave. S., the proposed Midtown store will attract customers from adjoining residential areas. According to Herendeen, the store will roughly serve a population of 14,750 to 35,600 within a three- to five-minute drive-time distance.
The store's small size and its location will enable residents of the surrounding neighborhoods to walk to get their groceries.
The concept of Neighborhood Market Stores was introduced by Walmart in response to changes in urban demographics and economic priorities. A small-scale store fits well in urban neighborhoods and is more convenient in heavily populated areas. Walmart Supercenters with large parking lots fit better in suburbs. A smaller store is designed to enable customers to park easily and enjoy less crowded aisles and quicker checkouts.
Since Sweetbay closed at Tangerine Plaza, the city who had earlier assembled the land at $3.1 million and started looking for potential partners, including Walmart. "Since the City is a financial stakeholder in the land, the City took an active role in bringing in Walmart,'' says Herendeen.
The neighborhood store at the Tangerine Plaza will have a full grocery, including produce and a pharmacy. It will employ 95 associates, for whom a temporary hiring center has been opened at the store. Interested applicants can also apply online
"With Walmart's neighborhood market store, the residents will once again have access to fresh food and pharmacy, which is critical for maintaining a healthy community,'' says Herendeen.
Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Beth Herendeen, Communications Director, City of St.Petersburg