Riviera Plaza Publix opened at the corner of Alderman Road and US 19 before the Holiday season came out in full force. Sunset Point and Belcher Road Publix in Clearwater opened on the same day. The latter of the two stores was a former Jewel Osco location, that later became an Albertsons.
I happened to check that store out last week while in the area and, while I thought they wasted a ton of space and hadn’t put everything together in the best way possible (which is what one would expect from Publix), I thought it was nice. It was nostalgic in fact, because of how much it resembled the Tampa Road/East Lake Road Albertsons location to a T.
This made me curious to see how things were progressing at Boot Ranch and the conversion between Albertsons and Publix.
What I was left wondering was, what conversion?
The ghost of the old “Albertsons” sign was still prominent when I looked at the retail space from a distance… The parking lot directly in front of the store was void, of course. All the retail shoppers focused on CVS or Target in the northern part of Shoppes At Boot Ranch. To the south, it was also busy with people coming and going from Blockbuster Video, Subway or the other boutique restaurants in the plaza.
The missing signage was my focus, though. Missing signage and lack of changes to the storefront. I walked in for a closer look.
While the promise was there that Publix would be taking over 400 East Lake Road… But from the looks of things, no one had messed with the building for quite a while besides putting up the sign behind the glass. The glass doorways at the right and center entrances were strewn with cobwebs and the disgusting things that got caught in them. Plenty of Albertsons laminates were still covering the doors and windows… Including the bold white faced “OPEN” sign that contradicted the truth: this location hadn’t been open in months and wouldn’t be for some time to come.
I wondered from the start if Publix was simply going to renovate the location or perhaps tear down the front and interior of the building and start from scratch? Of course, there is also the negotiations with the owner of the Shoppes at Boot Ranch plaza if they wanted to make even simple changes to the structure (read – a paint job) or even reconfiguring the parking lot for better traffic flow. All that could be a drag on things…
Oh, and there is that little issue with the economy, right?
But peering into the windows and seeing the proverbial ghost of a supermarket, I wonder what is the deal? No painting had taken place, no demolition. No obvious signs of re-wiring or electrical work. The store simply sits in silence as the world bustles on around it.
Yeah, it might be strange to take a keen interest like this in a forthcoming supermarket, but color me curious. I wanna’ know what’s next.