In the Know: Wawa plans 3 more locations in East Naples
Q: Just wondering if there are any updates on the two Wawas that were supposed to be built in East Naples along the East Trail. The lot near 951 has weeds growing on it. Any other Wawas coming to Collier as well?
— Bill M., Naples
A: Wawa, which opened its first Collier County convenience store and gas station a year ago at Livingston and Radio roads, has three more locations proposed for East Naples.
A location planned at Egrets Crossing on the southwest corner of Davis and Santa Barbara boulevards had not been previously reported. The project is still in the permitting stage for 2.63 acres of vacant commercial property just south of the CVS pharmacy on that corner, county records show. Wawa proposes a 6,119-square-foot convenience store with 16 fueling stations covered by a canopy between the store and Santa Barbara Boulevard, architectural plans show. A representative of Pennsylvania-based Wawa Inc. could not be reached for comment.
More than 10 acres on that corner are still available for development for Egrets Crossing, which has had a monument sign for years featuring only the pharmacy. A future retail center is still planned there to the east and north of the Falling Waters residential community.
In addition to CVS and Wawa, Egrets Crossing is proposed to eventually have three multiunit retail strips up to 25,000 square feet each. One is planned on Davis Boulevard just west of CVS, while the other two inline strips would front Santa Barbara just south of Wawa, marketing plans show.
The lot has been cleared for another Wawa store and station planned on U.S. 41 East at Price Street. Although construction has yet to begin on the Wawa store, the first building is taking shape for Price Street Plaza, a retail center northwest of the Shops at Eagle Creek and across U.S. 41 from Outback Steakhouse and Hobby Lobby.
Price Street Plaza will include freestanding buildings for Wawa and Tire Kingdom fronting U.S. 41, as well as a small retail strip behind them to be anchored by Dollar Tree. The retail strip will have six units averaging 1,600 square feet each in addition to the dollar store.
Naples-based Waltbillig & Hood General Contractors has nearly completed the shell of the 9,619-square-foot retail strip. The construction work began June 14, project manager Sharon Douglas said.
“We are only doing the strip center anchored by Dollar Tree and the surrounding site work,” Douglas said. “We are anticipating to be done early to mid-January.”
Another contractor will build the 6,179-square-foot Wawa store and gas pump canopy next to the Fifth Third Bank branch on Price Street, followed by the tire store and its auto service center next door. Details and a construction timeline for these additional phases were not available.
American Commercial Realty Corp. also has permits pending to build a Wawa store and station in Naples South Plaza on the southeast corner of Rattlesnake Hammock Road and U.S. 41 East. Plans show a 5,943-square-foot store with a six-island fuel-pumping area and canopy on property owned by Naples South Realty Associates LLC. Wawa is expected to open there in 2019, said Rick Baer, president of American Commercial Realty, the center's leasing and management agent.
“It absolutely is going to happen,” Baer said Thursday. “It was a protracted approval process, but all the approvals are in place, and permits are in progress. I expect the new Wawa to be open next year.”
Wawa is proposed near the plaza's U.S. 41 entrance at the southern end of the shopping center. That will necessitate the demolition of retail spaces in the small L-shaped inline strip that curves toward the East Trail. The main strip’s units 1 through 15 and the outparcel building will remain standing, plans show.
Since Wawa began its Florida expansion six years ago, the company has launched about 150 locations in the state and plans to open 25 to 30 stores every year in Florida for the next few years. Lee County already has four locations.
The stores offer a fast-casual menu that includes Wawa’s popular brands of made-to-order hoagies and specialty beverages, freshly brewed coffee, hot breakfast sandwiches and an assortment of soups, sides and snacks.
Meridian Center North
If you’ve recently driven to Southwest Florida International Airport via Ben Hill Griffin Parkway, you may have wondered what the hulk of a building is going up off the east side of the road just south of the airport.
The more than 200,000-square-foot speculative building is Meridian Center North, the first phase of what eventually will be a 360,000-square-foot distribution/manufacturing center on 27 acres at 10400 Meridian Center Parkway. Construction of the second phase of the project, Meridian Center South, another spec building, is expected to begin before the end of the year.
The first phase will be completed soon with 32-foot clear ceiling heights and a 130-foot heavy-duty truck court, Lee & Associates principal Derek Bornhorst is quoted in a News-Press story published this spring.
"That's going to be one of the largest bulk distribution sites we have in our market," Bornhorst said. "I think we're going to provide a solution for some of the pent-up demand that's in the Collier market as well as the e-commerce market."
The new center is targeted for distribution, manufacturing and warehouse applications. Marketing of the center is focusing on its strategic location with direct access to Interstate 75 and the airport’s distribution hub.
“End-user response to our first building has exceeded expectations, with our team now sorting out the many requests for space that validates the pent-up demand environment that prompted our decision to construct speculatively,” said Taylor Fields, Knott Realty Group vice president of leasing, via a recent news release. “Interest is emanating from manufacturing, distribution and e-commerce requirements, including last-mile operations interested in servicing a growing Southwest Florida population. The local building trades that service the residential sector have also been active including product suppliers, as well as companies involved in the food industry.”
The Class A building will be equipped with reinforced concrete floors to handle heavy loads, 58 dock doors, two 12-by-14-foot drive-in doors, LED warehouse lights with motion sensors, and parking for more than 350 vehicles, including about 18 trailers. Bays are divisible to about 35,000 square feet, and office space can be built-to-suit, according to a news release from Lawrence Howard & Associates Inc.
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