Site ready for Wal-Mart Supercenter
By BRADY DENNIS and CHASE SQUIRES
© St. Petersburg Times,
ZEPHYRHILLS -- In a long-anticipated move, Wal-Mart and a local developer have paid more than $2-million for 42.8 acres along U.S. 301 to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter and an adjoining shopping center.
Wal-Mart bought more than 33 acres for a combined total of $1,530,439. Local developer Jimmy Bingham, along with Thomas Oakley and Robert Kurlander, bought just more than nine acres of adjoining property for a total of $533,805.
County records show that Bingham's group and Wal-Mart agreed to allow an access road from the supercenter to Bingham's property.
In exchange, Bingham agreed not to put in a grocery store, a warehouse store similar to Sam's Club, a discount store or a pharmacy.
Nevertheless, Bingham said Monday that he certainly plans on developing retail stores on the site.
"Well, we didn't buy it to pass along to our great-grandchildren," he said. "The area is growing, so there's reason to believe there will be need for additional stores. We've got a lot of ideas (for stores), but nothing we're ready to move forward with yet."
Still, he said putting stores beside a new Wal-Mart often equals success.
"They are nice neighbors," Bingham said. "And the fact they are doubling their store size shows the high confidence they have in the area."
The new Wal-Mart Supercenter will be roughly 204,000 square feet, almost twice the size of the nearby existing store, said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Davis.
Davis said she expects the new store will employ about 500 people. She said company officials hoped to break ground on the store sometime in late summer or early fall.
After that, it usually takes nine to 10 months to complete construction, she said.
More than 21 acres of Wal-Mart's purchase came from Zephyrhills couple Owen and Anne Gall. Another eight and a half acres belonged to Doris and Larry Burnette. And the remaining four acres was purchased from a corporation called Chatelaine.
Word of the purchase came as good news to Zephyrhills City Manager Steve Spina, who has supported the project all along.
"Even though there are pluses and minuses, a project like that has a lot of benefits to a community this size," Spina said. "I think sometimes bigger stores do hurt smaller stores, but that will be minimized because Wal-Mart already exists here."
He said the impact fees from the store alone would top $500,000. Factor in the bundle of jobs, a possible economic grant and the sizable tax base the store will provide, and it could be a boon to the local economy, Spina said.
"I'm glad to see it. I think economically, it's going to be a big boost," he said. "There are way more positives than any negatives I can think of."
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