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Packing District may be getting a new Publix store, but not right away

The new Publix store in the Packing District would be flanked by orange trees as a nod to the site's history as a citrus packing site.
The new Publix store in the Packing District would be flanked by orange trees as a nod to the site's history as a citrus packing site. (GAI Consultants)

In what may be one of the worst-kept secrets in Orlando development circles, Publix is eyeing a retail site in the Packing District for a new grocery store, according to plans submitted to City of Orlando.

Dr. Phillips Charities, master developer of the 202-acre mixed-use Packing District in west Orlando, filed a Master Site Plan for the 5.26-acre retail parcel at the northeast quadrant of Princeton Street and N. Orange Blossom Trail that names the Lakeland-based grocer as the anchor tenant.

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According to the documents from GAI Consultants, Publix would build a 28,864-square-foot supermarket with an attached 1,400-square-foot retail space, suitable for a liquor store, with 152 parking spaces. But it would be constructed during Phase 2 of the project.

The grocery store would be 28,864 square feet and would have an attached liquor store.
The grocery store would be 28,864 square feet and would have an attached liquor store. (GAI Consultants)

Phase 1 comprises the replica juice stand on the corner that serves as the gateway to the northeast quadrant and three retail/restaurant buildings fronting on each of the main streets. Those buildings would range in size from 4,200-8,000 square feet.

When Dr. Phillips unveiled the NE quadrant concept a few years ago, it was envisioned that all of the retail would be timed to open this year in coordination with the completion of The Cannery apartments next door. Texas-based Embrey Partners broke ground on the 306-unit apartment complex in 2019.

Elevations submitted with the master plan show the grocery store utilizing a color palette and materials, including two shades of brick, to complement the Cannery buildings. The front of the building is lined with orange trees, another nod to the site’s history as a packing plant for Dr. Phillips citrus industry.

Check out the latest drawings for Phase 1 of The Packing District, including iconic citrus stand.

Dr. Phillips CEO Ken Robinson said the developer does not have a signed lease for the grocery store, which may explain why the retail project was divided into two phases. He declined to comment on the lease negotiations.

The Publix in College Park is just a mile away and at 32,000 square feet, is actually slightly larger than the proposed Packing District store. A typical new Publix prototype store is usually around 48,000 square feet.

Justin Greider, vice president and retail specialist for JLL, said it would be unusual, but not unheard of, for Publix to operate two store so close together. Greider, who is not involved in the project, cited the Dr. Phillips area as an example where Publix operates two supermarkets across the street from each other at Plaza Venezia and Dr. Phillips Marketplace.

“Publix has done a great job of finding areas where they can generate stronger than normal penetration because they have a really great customer base,” Greider said. “College Park isn’t quite as large as Dr. Phillips, but it’s an incredibly dense residential neighborhood with fantastic demographics.”

Plans for The Packing District, a $480-million project, have continued to unfold within the last year. In late 2017, Dr. Phillips Charities announced its gift of more than 100 acres of land adjacent to the District to the City of Orlando to make way for a regional park that would serve as a hub for wellness programs and provide a site for amenities, including the city’s tennis center, bike trails, running trails and more.

In September, the 4R Foundation submitted its rezoning application for the 4Roots Farm Campus on 18 acres in the city park. Earlier this summer the City Council approved the lease and conceptual plan. The urban farm would feature standard and hydroponic greenhouses, a Discovery Center with classroom spaces and event barn. The plans also include shops, a cafe and a farm-to-table restaurant where guests can enjoy meals designed around seasonal availability of produce grown directly on the campus.

The Planned Development zoning request identifies 22 potential buildings or structures, including a 60-foot water tower signage element. It even specifies the types and number of livestock that can be raised on the farm. The conceptual site plan also includes eight guest cottages, each 500 square feet, overlooking the row fields.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @byLauraKinsler. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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