Publix plans replacement store in ‘Shoppes’ center

Publix Supermarkets plans to build a new store in the Shoppes at St. Lucie West to replace the “out of date” 27-year-old Publix in the bustling shopping center.

Plans call for a 55,517-square-foot store with pharmacy drive-through service on part of a vacant tract about 1,200 feet west of the existing Publix at 1333 NW St. Lucie West Boulevard.

“Publix wants to build a new building because the one currently existing in the shopping center is out of date,” said John Finizio, a Port St. Lucie city planner reviewing the project.

The 13.3-acre tract is the last vacant land in the Shoppes at St. Lucie West, said Brad Currie, a planner representing landowner St. Lucie Westland LLC, of Morristown, N.J. A new tenant will be found for the 66,619-square foot building Publix intends to vacate, Currie said.

“That will not be torn down,” Currie told the Port St. Lucie Planning and Zoning Board during a public hearing on March 5. “It will stay as it is, it will just have a different tenant inside.”

“My understanding is that is currently up for lease and they’ve got several different tenants looking at that space,” Currie said. “With the state of retail today, we’re not sure exactly what it will be.”

The board voted unanimously to recommend the City Council approve a special exception to allow drive-through service for the pharmacy in the new Publix.

The council had approved the original site plan for the project in 2005. St. Lucie Westland submitted an updated site plan on Dec. 5 that is being reviewed by city planners.

Five St. Lucie West homeowners who live near the shopping center raised questions during the hearing about the project’s landscaping and affect on traffic congestion on St. Lucie West Boulevard. About 60 people attended the hearing.

“The boulevard is becoming so crowded,” said Karen Schlitt of The Lakes subdivision. “It’s turning into a parking lot.”

Wendy Gilmore, another Lakes homeowner, said the landscaping for the new Publix should be improved.

The updated site plan would place the Publix building 127 feet from the northern property line, instead of 88 feet as originally planned, Currie said. A new landscaping plan will also be submitted to the city.

Currie said he anticipates discussing the new landscaping plans with nearby homeowners during a meeting this month at their clubhouse.

The City Council approved the original site plan for three buildings totaling 166,538 square feet in September 2005.

The plans originally envisioned BJ’s Wholesale Club occupying a 119,598-square-foot building, but it was never built, Finizio said. “The reason BJ’s didn’t get built there was they had an issue with Publix,” Currie said. “So the reality is BJ’s will probably not go here.”

Two buildings totaling about 47,000 square feet facing St. Lucie Boulevard were built in 2007 as part of the project, records show. They are home to a variety of restaurants and shops.

Publix’s new building and parking lot would occupy the eastern half of the 13.3-acre parcel, according to the updated site plan submitted to city planners.

It will resemble the Publix with a drive-through in the Verano development, Currie said. The St. Lucie West drive-through would operate from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., city records show. Other businesses with drive-throughs in the neighborhood have similar hours.

A row of stores totaling 64,765 square feet is planned along the western property line, Currie said.

Publix is also in negotiations with Port St. Lucie officials for a 20-acre parcel on the northwest corner of Becker Road and Village Parkway in the city-owned Tradition Commerce Center.

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