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It's true: Starbucks is coming

The coffee brewing giant is planning to open a shop in Brooksville and two in Spring Hill.

By MICHAEL KRUSE
Published February 27, 2007


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Here ... comes ... Starbucks!

Brooksville building permit 7037 means big news here in Hernando County: The planet's leading and most ubiquitous purveyor of coffees, Tazo teas, Frappuccinos and DoubleShot espressos is set to open a 2,118-square-foot shop in the corner storefront in the new Publix plaza on State Road 50, city officials said Monday.

And two more Starbucks are in the works for Spring Hill.

One of those locations would be in front of the coming Coastal Landing shopping center, across from the Wal-Mart Supercenter on SR 50, between the Dunkin' Donuts and the closed Whistle Stop Junction buffet. The other would be in a small strip center to be built at Mariner and Northcliffe boulevards. The Coastal Landing plans are being reviewed right now, and the Northcliffe plans aren't even quite that far along, said Dennis Andrews, a site plan review coordinator for the county's development department.

But the Brooksville location is closer to completion.

"Yes," community development director Bill Geiger said. "They're coming."

"They're coming in some time this week to pick up the permit," said Bob Schlereth, the permit coordinator at the city's building division.

Starbucks is just about everywhere. The Seattle java giant has almost 12,500 locations - in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and 36 other countries including Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Switzerland.

Closer to home, Wesley Chapel has a Starbucks, Port Richey has one and New Port Richey has two. They're all over Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Still, though, the only Starbucks presence in Hernando is the tiny corner kiosk in the Spring Hill Target on U.S. 19. The Starbucks counter shares a space with a more typical snack stop that sells Icees, hot dogs and heat-lamp fried food - and it's fine. It's just not a real Starbucks.

But with the county's population approaching 170,000, and with Brooksville's growth, too, especially south of downtown on U.S. 41, it was only a matter of time before Starbucks joined places like the new Lowe's and the coming Gold's Gym.

A bona fide Starbucks.

Finally.

"It's safe to say that Starbucks has looked at the demographics," City Council member Lara Bradburn said Monday, "and they're confident they'll have the traffic to support their business."

The talk around the county is nothing new.

More than a year ago, Buddy Selph, the Tommie Dawson Realty broker, said Starbucks' arrival was "right around the corner."

In November, a man from Starbucks came to town and asked about the local rules for signage and outside tables and chairs, and the Starbucks chatter quickened.

Was Starbucks really coming?

"I don't see why they wouldn't," city planning and zoning coordinator Pat Jobe said then.

"They're coming," building official Lew Chandler said.

Then, late last week, City Hall gave the official okay, and the building division did the same.

When exactly Starbucks expects to open isn't known. Company spokeswoman Julie Jimenez had no information on that Monday. But local officials seemed to think it was all going to go down relatively pronto.

"The way they've been talking," said Schlereth, the permit coordinator, "they want to start pretty quick.

"It's really their timetable," said Geiger, the development director. "But they can move as fast as they want to move."

Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or 352 848-1434.

[Last modified February 26, 2007, 23:23:49]


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