Plans are under way to bring a Walmart grocery store to the southeast corner of Myrtle Avenue and the Tamiami Trail. It is the site of the Winn-Dixie, which closed late last year.
Michelle Belaire, a Walmart spokesperson, confirmed the plans. “It will be a full-service grocery, and likely will include a pharmacy,” she said. The company is planning for a 33,000 square-foot building, slightly smaller than the old Winn-Dixie store.
The preliminary plans will go before the City of Sarasota’s Development Review Committee on June 1, where senior city staffers review a preliminary site plan.
The property is zoned “NT” – North [Tamiami] Trail – but is also under an “overlay district” which requires new urbanist design be used. That would push the parking to the rear of the building, and move the front closer to US 41.
Walmart operates 27 such markets in Florida, often in similar circumstances of taking over a shuttered site. “We have been successful in going into dark locations,” said Belaire.
Because the property was formerly used for a grocery, it will not require a rezoning, but the planning board will review the site plan for compliance with the new overlay district requirements, according to city staffers.
Assuming all goes well with the permitting, site preparation and construction processes, Belaire said the store could open “as early as 2012.” She said it would employ between 80 to 100 “associates.”
Store hours are tentatively set for 7am to 10pm. An 11pm closing is possible if the company asks for a conditional use, with could require city commission approval. However the company could ask for the “conditional use” after the store opens.
The Winn-Dixie store was about 40 years old. When the company announced it would be closing the North Trail grocery, some residents and city officials lobbied the company to keep it open, because it was the only grocery for a mile or more.
This is the second time Walmart proposed a facility in northern Sarasota. A plan to build one of the company’s “supercenters” at Washington Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Way several years ago faltered over questions of remediation of the old dump on the site, and concerns over low wages for “associates.”