A rendering of the Whole Foods. Rendering provided by J Square Developers.
St. Pete is getting its first Whole Foods Market.
Development partners St. Petersburg-based J Square Developers and Atlanta-based SJC Ventures have started the demolition and construction process for the new grocery store at 201 38th Ave. North. in the Sunshine Plaza strip mall.
“Part of the early construction process will include re-routing an existing storm sewer line that runs right through the middle of the property, so passersby will see that happening first, plus the demolition of the existing structures before going vertical,” Jay Miller, CEO of J Square Developers, said in a news release.
Whole Foods, owned by Amazon, has several stores throughout Tampa Bay – in Clearwater, Carrollwood, Sarasota and Midtown in Tampa.
For over a year, it has been widely speculated that a Whole Foods would be built at the site as permits and filings hinted about J Square developing a 40,100-square-foot building for an organic grocer at the plaza.
The St. Pete plaza currently houses a Dollar General and formerly housed a gym among other tenants.
The grocery store site has been owned for several years by Sunrise Plaza Holdings LLC and Zag Enterprise Holdings.
Hawkins Construction is the general contractor for the new Whole Foods project.
More on Whole Foods St. Pete
A few months ago, we started hearing whispers about a Whole Foods Market coming to St. Pete.
This isn’t the first time a Whole Foods has been rumored for the Sunshine City. In 2012, several local publications reported that the organic grocery chain was eyeing property adjacent to Synovus Bank at 333 3rd Avenue North in downtown St. Pete. That rumor never came to fruition.
A few years later, the Synovus Bank land was acquired by local philanthropist and art collector Rudy Ciccarello who pledged to build a world-class museum on the site. The five-story, 137,000 square foot Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement was later constructed on the property. Originally scheduled to open in 2020, the museum has pushed back its grand opening until later this year.
Since 2012, we’ve seen Whole Foods locations spring up in other Tampa Bay cities. A Carrollwood location opened in 2012, Clearwater got a store in 2014, a second Whole Foods opened in Sarasota in 2018, and Tampa’s Whole Foods will be moving to Midtown Tampa later this year.
But what about Whole Foods St. Pete? Will we finally see the Austin-based organic grocer open here? Maybe. According to our sources, a deal isn’t yet finalized.
However, a spokesperson for the company has confirmed to St. Pete Rising that “a Whole Foods Market location in St. Petersburg is in development.”
Additionally, St. Pete Rising can also confirm that the shopping plaza located at 201-205 38th Avenue North has been approved for demolition to make way for a 40,000 square foot organic grocery store and 207-space surface parking lot.
The shopping center is currently home to Suncoast Fitness, Dollar General, Sun Country Cleaners, and a Kahwa Coffee drive-thru. The location is across the street from two Publix Shopping Centers and less than a mile from Trader Joe’s and The Fresh Market.
The proposed organic grocery store would be co-developed by St. Pete-based J Square Developers and Georgia-based SJ Collins. Both companies were unavailable for comment.
While we cannot confirm with certainty that the organic grocer planned for 38th Avenue North is the Whole Foods that was confirmed to be under development – we are pretty darn sure of it.
First, the organic grocer proposed for 38th Avenue North is 40,000 square feet. Whole Foods is one of the only organic grocery store chains that builds 40,000 square foot stores. Second, if you visit the website for SJ Collins, one of the co-developers for the project, 12 out of 14 of the projects they’ve worked on contain a Whole Foods.
Third, and this may be the smoking gun, one of the current tenants of the shopping center, Suncoast Fitness, posted the following message on Facebook last Friday, “We will be closing this facility in June or July due to the Landlord building a Whole Foods on the Property.”
All of this being said, the ink has not dried on the deal to bring a Whole Foods to St. Pete. But something is definitely in the works!
As always, we will keep you posted as soon as we receive confirmation.
Additionally, the proposed organic grocer at 38th Avenue North has been going through the City of St. Pete approval process for the past few months. As far as we can tell, this is the timeline of past and future events related to what could be the first Whole Foods St. Pete:
On December 9th, 2020, J Square Developers, on behalf of the owners of the shopping center, submitted a set of documents to the City of St. Pete regarding their proposal to develop a new organic grocery store. The documents included a variance application, preliminary site plan, a property survey, and elevations, among other items.
On December 29th, 2020, the City sent out a Notice of Intent to Approve to all residents living within 300 feet of the shopping center. The request was for approval of the variances required to demolish the existing shopping center and construct a new 40,000 square foot grocery store.
On January 8th, 2021, the grocery store was administratively approved with no appeals filed.
On February 3rd, 2021, the project went before the City’s Development Review Commission (DRC) requesting the vacation of a portion of 39th Avenue North. The goal of the vacation was to combine the vacated parcel with the property located at 3901 3rd Street North through replatting in order to redevelop the property as a single parcel with a new grocery store.
Although City staff recommended approval of the vacation, the Development Review Commission voted 3-4, thus denying the request. The DRC denied the request as their preference is to preserve the public right-of-way and have the developer pursue a variance, as opposed to a vacation, to satisfy the maximum impervious surface area requirements.
The DRC’s recommendation to deny the partial vacation of 39th Avenue North will be heard before City Council on March 11th, 2021.
Meanwhile, following the DRC’s recommendation of denial, J Square Developers submitted an application for a variance to maximum impervious surface area requirements that is currently scheduled to be heard by the DRC on April 7, 2021.