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Bed Bath & Beyond may replace Willow Bend Publix

By JAMES THORNER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 8, 2002

LAND O'LAKES -- Bed Bath & Beyond, the national chain that sells up-market household goods, is the rumored top contender to replace a Publix supermarket due to vacate Willow Bend Towne Centre next year.

Land O'Lakes' buzz has the chain opening its first Pasco County outlet in the 54,000-square-foot space that Publix will abandon when it moves across the street to the rival Collier Commons shopping center.

Based in New Jersey with about 425 stores in 44 states, Bed Bath & Beyond specializes in household items such as bed sheets, blankets, pillows, candles, clocks, shower curtains and cutlery.

The closest store to Land O'Lakes is at 13121 N Dale Mabry Highway in Carrollwood.

Company spokeswoman Bari Fagin didn't rule out a store's coming to Pasco but said it doesn't appear on a "list of stores I can speak about." That list changes daily, she said.

No further confirmation came from Steve Sembler, whose Clearwater company manages Willow Bend. He couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

Although the Albertsons grocery chain was approached to take over the Willow Bend property on the southeast corner of State Road 54 and Collier Parkway, Publix's contract barred Sembler from leasing to competing supermarkets.

The new Publix, which will be 61,000 square feet and larger than the old store, will settle at a former horse farm owned by the Woods family on the northwest corner of SR 54 and Collier.

It will share the property with a Walgreens pharmacy and a 252-unit lakeside apartment complex. Construction workers have already ripped up the land but have erected no buildings yet.

-James Thorner covers growth and development in Pasco County. He can be reached at (813) 909-4613 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4613 or thorner@sptimes.com.

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