Pasco News

Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market is taking shape

The walls are taking shape during construction of a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market at Little and Ridge roads scheduled to open in early 2015.

The smaller Wal-Mart would encompass roughly 42,000 square feet, according to the site plan filed with Pasco County. That’s less than half the space of its big-brother Supercenter stores in Port Richey, Hudson and the Trinity area.

Once construction begins, it typically takes about six months from groundbreaking to grand opening to complete a Neighborhood Market, Wal-Mart Inc. spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in an email. “We expect the store to open in the beginning of 2015,” Henneberg reports. Neighborhood Markets typically employ 95 associates, she said.

On any given day, 25 to 50 construction workers converge on the site to build Wal-Mart store 2391, Jillian Bandes said as project manager for Dunedin-based Bandes Construction, the contractor for the project.

Neither Wal-Mart executives or the contractor divulged how much the project will cost.

Crews began in earnest in July to build the new store that will anchor the Ridge Plaza shopping center on the northwest corner of the intersection, Bandes said. Pete Balcom and Dan Casey are the superintendents for the project.

To make room demolition crews in April made quick work of knocking down the former Eckerd drug store. The former Eckerd storefront remained mostly unoccupied ever since Sept. 11, 2004, when the location closed as part of consolidation after the buyout by the retail pharmacy unit of CVS Caremark.

The DialAmerica call center relocated from Ridge Plaza to make room for the Wal-Mart project. The call center now is on the second floor of the SunTrust Bank Regency Square branch at 10220 U.S. 19 in Port Richey.

The new location could boost traffic for Ridge Plaza. The shopping center includes chains such as Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby, Shapes and Sioux City Steakhouse.

Average traffic counts are 39,000 a day on Little Road and 26,000 along that section of Ridge Road, according to an online brochure from Benderson Development, based in University Park.

Other demographics include 60,041 residents within three miles, average household income of $45,464 and five-year growth projections of 13 percent.

Neighborhood Market stores give customers easy access to fresh produce, a full grocery department with a bakery and deli, a drive-through pharmacy with $4 generic prescriptions, health and beauty supplies, select household items and other products, according to a Wal-Mart press release.

The new location will give customers the option to order items online and have merchandise delivered here for free through the Site to Store service.

Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets were designed in 1998. The company operates more than 340 Neighborhood Markets nationwide and about three dozen locations in Florida. The Little Road location will be the first one in Pasco County that Wal-Mart builds, county officials say.

Competition includes a Dollar General about a block north of the Neighborhood Market and a Family Dollar store a few blocks away. A Publix Supermarket lies along Little Road north of Embassy Boulevard.

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