Wal-Mart's preferred general contractors are apparently being given a second chance to bid on construction of the retailer's latest Neighborhood Market in the Orlando area.
The 40,687-square-foot project, to be located at Lee Road and Adanson Street near Eatonville, is estimated to cost $5 million, and had the GC bid submissions rejected by the retailer.
While a schedule for rebidding has not been disclosed, only contractors that have been vetted by Wal-Mart are allowed to apply. This means, in many cases, the contractors have had to make a trip to the company's Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters to meet with representatives.
And even those who are authorized are being warned not to jump the gun and resubmit before the bidding process is reopened. Doing so could disqualify them from bidding on jobs in the future.
Wal-Mart representatives did not return phone calls and emails on Tuesday seeking comment.
But the world's biggest retailer is known for wanting things just so, and carries the commensurate clout to call the shots with builders.
As for the permitting process, there is a bit of a stall. Project permits were approved Feb. 24 by Orange County, but issuance of final permits has been delayed until additional information has been provided by the applicant, developer Lee Road Partners, LP, and architect Marenilly Frias.
Wal-Mart has to submit a formal application and tell Orange County who the general contractor is, Frias told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday.
No construction can proceed until the required information is provided.
Plans for the new Neighborhood Market follow Wal-Mart announcing earlier this year it will close 154 stores in the U.S., including 23 Neighborhood Markets.
None of the Neighborhood Markets are closing in Florida, as the retailer uses the stores' small format strategy to make inroads in urban areas where large stores are harder to place.
Most of Greater Orlando's Neighborhood Markets, which are big on grocery offerings, are clustered around the city of Orlando's perimeter.
Deerfield Beach-based developer and property manager Konover South has nearly 20 acres under contract in Orlando's Meadow Woods submarket, with plans for a Walmart Neighborhood Market and 31,700 square feet of flex retail space.
Wal-Mart has been choosing the greater Orlando area for its superstores, regular stores and Neighborhood Markets with increasing frequency as the area builds out.
There are 74 Neighborhood Markets in the state, with 23 in the Orlando market. Orlando's Meadow Woods submarket is also slated for a new Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.
For its part, Wal-Mart is now focusing to a large degree on Neighborhood Markets for its growth. The locations have had increases in same-store sales, or sales in stores that have been open for more than a year, for the last 19 quarters.
To help keep that momentum, in part, Wal-Mart "is using Orlando as a test market as the northeast grows," said Jeffrey Sweeney, senior director at Cushman & Wakefield. "It's a compliment to the area and also shows how Orlando is expanding."
At roughly 40,000 square feet, Neighborhood Markets, which were rolled out in 1998, are dwarfed by the 140,000-square-foot or more Wal-Mart Supercenters that are mostly in the suburbs.
Wal-Mart earlier this year said it was closing its smallest store format, Wal-Mart Express, which had 102 stores. There were three in Florida, but not near Orlando. They were in Interlachen, Trenton and Cross City.