A month after announcing it was hunting for convenience store and fuel station properties to buy with a close eye on Orlando, Durham-based conglomerate The Guess Corporation said Wednesday it has shifted gears, seeking undeveloped properties to build up to 25 of its own new fuel stations in Greater Orlando within the next year.
"We have reviewed (fuel station acquisition) opportunities, but most of those opportunities did not fit our criterion," said Cutie Shrestha, senior executive vice president and chief development officer, in an emailed response to questions. "In the absence of existing units, we will work with parties to identify 7-acre sites to build new locations in the Orlando market. We expect to have a portfolio of 25 units in the Orlando market over the next 12 months."
The company plans to invest approximately $2.5 million in each new fuel station, aside from land acquisition, she said.
The Guess Corp. has retained global real estate firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank to manage its property search, with Dean Tselepis managing the relationship. It's seeking sites with a minimum of 40,000 vehicles per day, ideally along the interstate with adjacent retail development areas, Shrestha said.
It also hired local firm Scott + Cormia to oversee the architecture and design for the gas and convenience stores being built, or acquired and renovated. The design incorporates open spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows.
The Guess Corp. said it plans to build a portfolio of 1,000 units within the next year through its subsidiary Guess Petroleum, Ltd. The fuel stations would operate under new brand GP Express, and be positioned as an upscale chain with scent technologies that eliminate the odor of gas inside the store and sell fresh goods and premium quality merchandise.
Shrestha declined to specify a maximum price per acre the company is adhering to in its search.
Interior design of the GP Express stores show each will have a sitting area and dining area for an in-store deli/restaurant, and an upper level that overlooks the store's first floor.
Employees would be assigned to sections of the store with mobile payment devices, so customers don't have to visit one central register area to check out, the company said. Employees would carry bags to customer vehicles, and offer full-service fueling.
The company has not closed on any fuel station acquisitions in the Orlando area since announcing its search for existing properties last month.