Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Quick Glimpse - Former Albertsons #4436 - Valrico, FL (And More!)

Albertsons #4436
3313 Lithia Pinecrest Road, Valrico, FL - Albertsons Plaza

***Photos of this Store and the Bonus Store at the bottom of this post are Courtesy of Kristin C.***

     Sorry, this post was supposed to auto upload this morning, but I forgot to click the schedule button. Anyway, without any further delay, here it is:

     Thanks to new contributor Kristin C., today we'll take a quick look at the former Valrico Albertsons. Valrico is an inland suburb of Tampa, located in the eastern portion of Hillsborough County where suburbia begins to fizzle out in exchange for larger tracts of land. The Valrico area began to turn from semi-rural into more suburban in the late-80's and early-90's, as development of the Tampa metro area began to push further inland. With all of this new growth coming about, Albertsons joined in and opened a new store in this area in 1997. This store was built in the style of a typical mid-90's model store, with the single entry/exit under the main arch. This store survived all of the rounds of Albertsons Florida closures until the 2012 near-exodus of Florida closure sweep that sent Albertsons down to 4 Florida locations from 17. This store closed for good on June 9, 2012, and is still empty as of my writing of this. A reliable source had informed me that a "natural foods grocer" was interested in this building, but it seems like nothing has come from that claim yet, as the building is still sitting like this.

     Here you can see the Albertsons labelscar much clearer (although partially blocked by that 'available' sign), as well as the typical mid-90's style entryway.

     The left side of the store, with the liquor store off at the edge of the building. The Food labelscar is visible in this photo.

     The right side of the building. Behind those windows was the cart storage area. The windowed in cart storage area was another typical trait for these mid-90's stores. Pharmacy labelscar is also visible above the windows.

     Closeup of the entrance and exit doors. Albertsons' exit decals are still up on the exit doors.

     And here's a quick peek at the inside, complete with the Blue and Gray Market interior featuring the early 2000's brown update. By 1997, Blue and Gray Market was horribly outdated, as that interior was first introduced around 1985. 1997 was the year Albertsons finally retired Blue and Gray Market when they replaced it with the Blue and Green Awnings interior, which was a much needed refresh. Unfortunately, this store was built prior to the rollout of Blue and Green Awnings. For such a modern looking store from the exterior, the interior made this store feel ten years older than it really was.

     Moving along from the interior to a closeup of the former Liquor Store.

     And last but not least, the road sign facing out to Miller Road, which runs along the left side of the building.

     To wrap up this Quick Glimpse post, here are some aerial images of this store. First is this Bing Maps Bird's Eye aerial image of the store, showing it when it was still open.

     And finally, an aerial image of the building from Google Earth, taken after the store closed.

     Thanks Kristin for sending in these photos of the former Valrico Albertsons! However, that isn't all that Kristin sent in. To finish off this post, I will be sharing some photos she took of the very high volume Gandy Plaza Publix in Tampa:

Publix #310
3615 W. Gandy Boulevard, Tampa, FL - Gandy Shopping Center

     Publix opened this store on Gandy Boulevard in 1985 as a replacement for their older wing store located in Britton Plaza a mile to the north. (Interestingly, Publix's old store in Britton Plaza later became home to Albertsons #4372, and was then sold back to Publix in 2008, and was then rebuilt by Publix in 2015, but that mess is a story for another day). This store is a very busy and high volume Publix. Even though this is an older store, it has gotten very thorough remodels over the years, and will be one of the 4 pilot Publix stores to be getting a Starbucks kiosk in the coming months (and the only non-2010's built Publix that was chosen as a test location). Overall, Publix does a very good job at keeping their older stores looking modern inside and out, and this store is no exception.

     As with most 80's and 90's built Publix stores, the entrances are located facing the sides of the building. So let's head inside...

     Heading inside and turning right, you find the dining area in the front right corner of the store. In most Publix stores with a dining area, it's usually just a small alcove with some tables in it. However, this store received a "Publix Cafe" as well here. Publix Cafes, from what I've seen, have been limited to newer stores or stores with extra space near the front. They sell coffees and ice cream primarily, and they never look busy to me the few times I've come across them. For the Starbucks kiosk test, my guess is the Publix Cafe will be ripped out, with Starbucks replacing it in this same location. I think the having a Starbucks in here is a much better move than the Publix Cafe, and I have a feeling the pilot program will be successful.

     This photo is looking at the grocery aisles from the back right corner of the store.

     Looking toward the left side of the store from the front main aisle. This store has either 17 or 18 aisles, which is a lot for a typical 80's built Publix. Most 80's Publix stores top out around 14 aisles.

     Looking over at the front end, we see the giant angled inlayed light over the registers, one of the most interesting features of these 80's and (more typically) 90's Publix stores. This thing isn't a skylight (which many people assume it is). It really is one giant lighting fixture.

     Express lane light, with a closeup of the giant angled inlayed light behind it.

     The front wall. The customer service counter is located behind where Kristin took this picture. You can also see one of the windows looking down on the store from the upstairs offices.

     Here's an overview satellite image of Gandy Shopping Center. The shopping center is essentially made up of just the Publix (the building on the right) and a Target (building on the left), along with a few outparcels.

     Many times I appreciate the fact that Bing Maps rarely updates their Bird's Eye imagery. Here they captured this Publix back before the most recent remodel where they painted it brownish-orange. This was likely the original look of this store from 1985, and you really can't get much more 80's Publix than this!

     Thanks again Kristin for sending in these pictures! As always, if you would like to contribute pictures to AFB, feel free to send them in. They're always welcome!

     Next week, we will conclude our tour of the former Sanford Albertsons, so be sure to come back then and check that out!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Former Albertsons #4471 - Sanford, FL - Part 1

Albertsons #4471
300 W. Lake Mary Boulevard, Sanford, FL - Boulevard Plaza

     Today's post is Part 1 of a two part post about a very exciting former Albertsons store located in Sanford, FL. (Part 2 of the post on this store will be coming in two weeks). Why I broke this post up into two parts we will see in two weeks, but for now, let's begin our look at this store...

     The Sanford Albertsons first opened in 2000 on the very southern edge of Sanford, the largest city in Seminole County. This was the only Albertsons to ever open within the city of Sanford proper, however the Sanford area once included three Albertsons stores - this one, Store #4363 in Lake Mary, and Store #4316(2) in Heathrow. This store was a typical early 2000's Albertsons store in every way, and included the typical layout that looked a lot like this (although this store's liquor store was to the left of the main building, not the right as shown in that diagram). This store lasted for just barely 10 years, when it was included in the Albertsons Florida closure round in February 2010, the same closure round where Albertsons practically pulled out of South Florida (with the exception of the Oakland Park store). That same closure round also brought an end to one other Central Florida Albertsons, Store #4412 in Oviedo (a story for another day). Ever since February 2010, this building has sat empty. Since Albertsons' closure, many of the other tenants in the plaza that accompanied this store slowly closed or moved elsewhere, making the plaza mostly dead as well. I did a little research, and I found out that Albertsons is still paying rent for this space (as of 2014 anyway). If Albertsons still has control of this space, then nothing can move in here until their lease expires (or if Albertsons chooses to sell their lease to someone else, like what happened with Store #4466). 

     So for now, this building will probably be staying like this - empty. Considering how Albertsons still controls this space, this building could be a candidate for a future Safeway location should that concept be expanded in Florida. The only thing is that the Altamonte Springs Safeway is only 10 miles away from here, but that should be enough of a buffer zone between these two stores should something like that ever happen. Anyway, speculation aside, this building has a very nice variation of the early 2000's design with the patterned stucco and brick accents, a design carried throughout the entire plaza.

     The entrance doors. Let's just jump right in and take a peek through the glass to see what remains on the inside...

     Grocery Palace/Theme Park remnants! This store was left in practically the same state as the former St. Lucie West Albertsons (Store #4466) after it closed. Here's a similar picture taken through 4466's old entrance.

     The restrooms were located behind that window to the left. The deli is to the left after turning the corner past the restrooms, and Produce and the Bakery were located in the distance in the very back of this photo (those departments are kind of hard to see given how dimly lit it is back there).

     Looking back toward the pharmacy island. The cart storage area was located in front of that short wall to the very right of this picture.

     The front walkway. As we make our way down here, let's peek in through the windows...

     This is a better view of the short wall that separated the cart storage area from the pharmacy island.

     However, that short wall is just tall enough to block out most of the pharmacy island.

     The exit doors.

     Looking through the exit doors we see the home of the old DFS Dry Cleaners, located in that corner that is all torn apart. Floral was also located in this island, immediately behind the dry cleaners.

     This was the best picture I could get of the right half of the building. The checkouts would have been located in the very front portion of this space, and behind that were the grocery aisles, and in the very back was the Meat & Seafood counter. The far right was home to Frozen Foods. Considering the dim lighting and lack of windows on this side of the building, it's somewhat hard to make out anything in the far back of the store.

     One final look inside...

     This is looking from the exit doors back toward the entrance, with the liquor store off in the distance. We'll head over to the liquor store shortly, but just a few more photos of the main store first...

     This is the rightmost portion of the building, sowing some of the extra detailing on the facade.

     Back we go to the front walkway, where the liquor store lies just ahead...

     If you look closely, you can see the "Liquor" labelscar. As I mentioned earlier, this liquor store is located to the left of the main store.

     Looking from the Liquor store entrance back toward the main store's entrance.

     Seminole County must have a requirement that all establishments that sell alcohol have one of these signs posted. I kept noticing them at all of the stores around here, but not anywhere else.

     Another look at the liquor store entrance.

     Please visit your other Albertsons locations at 200 US Highway 17-92 in Longwood (Store #4353) or at 3765 Lake Emma Road in Lake Mary (Store #4363). When you go to either of those stores to find out both of them closed 4 years ago, you'll find signs there redirecting you to the Altamonte Springs Albertsons-now-Safeway (that is if you haven't given up and gone to Publix by that point).

     Taking a peek inside the old liquor store, we see remnants of the Theme Park/Grocery Palace liquor store decor.

     Now back outside we go...

     One final look at the walkway that heads back to the main store before we switch over to some Bird's Eye Satellite imagery courtesy of Bing Maps:

Front - Here's this Albertsons back when they were still open, and when the rest of the plaza was more lively.

Right Side

Back - Due to the way the lot is laid out, Albertsons' loading docks had to be moved to the side of the building.

Left Side

     And now for some historic aerial imagery courtesy of Google Maps:

Former Albertsons #4471 - 2016

Albertsons #4471 - 2009

Albertsons #4471 - 2002

Future Albertsons #4471 - 1999 - The Albertsons and plaza had yet to break ground. It looks like part of the Albertsons site was built over what looks to be an old car dealership.

     This map shows the layout of Boulevard Plaza (home to the former Albertsons), along with some of the other former stores immediately surrounding it. First, let's start off with the former Albertsons Express gas station:

     Sorry about the rather bad pictures of the former Albertsons Express. I almost left here without any pictures of this entirely, as I forgot it was here. After Albertsons sold off all of their Florida Albertsons Express locations to independent operators in 2008, this Albertsons Express became "Sanford Express", featuring Shell gasoline. Other than some new paint, the convenience store building is entirely original to Albertsons. Sanford Express even reused the "Express" sign from Albertsons Express!

     Heading inside, this was the lone photo I was able to get. I was the only person in the convenience store, and the owner was following me around the entire time (which didn't make for a friendly photo taking atmosphere). The interior decor (while unphotographed) is still all original to Albertsons, featuring the neon lettering and a bunch of uncovered Albertsons leaf logos around the perimeter of the store. Sanford Express did such a cheap remodel of this place, the even reused Albertsons price signs! While the picture is blurry, you can still see the old Albertsons "Great Deal" price tag, complete with an unblotched Albertsons logo (although Albertsons' Great Deal has since been adjusted for inflation). I remember these signs being placed throughout the store on various sale items, and it was strange seeing one of these again.

     Rear view of the former Albertsons Express, with the Shell gas canopy visible in the background.

     Since all I got of the former Albertsons Express were those few crummy photos, here's a Bing Maps Bird's Eye view of the building to give everyone a better look at it.

     Also on that map I pointed out a former Winn-Dixie. Let's jump across the street for a quick look at that...

Winn-Dixie #2296/Big Lots #1693
3818 S. Orlando Drive, Sanford, FL - The Village Marketplace

     This Winn-Dixie originally opened in 1982. This building is a very well preserved and very typical example of an 80's style Winn-Dixie with the angled awning and side entrances. Winn-Dixie lasted at this location until sometime around 2000, right around the time the new Albertsons across the street opened (although Albertsons probably wasn't directly to blame for this store's demise). After Winn-Dixie closed, Big Lots opened up in this building around 2001. Big Lots lasted at this location until 2011, when they moved to a much nicer location (a former Circuit City) on the northern edge of town in a power center anchored by a Super Target, across the street from Seminole Towne Center Mall. Since Big Lots left, the old Winn-Dixie has been sitting mostly empty, however in early 2016 a Harbor Freight tools opened up in a tiny slice of the rightmost portion of this building. I have many more pictures of this store in reserve to upload to my flickr account one day, but I thought this place was interesting enough to deserve a special mention here.

     I will conclude today's post with this final view of the front of the old Albertsons. While this post may be over, our tour of former Albertsons #4471 is not. We will be returning to this former Albertsons in two weeks for Part 2 of our tour of this store. While everybody is waiting in anticipation for that, I have a post that will be going up next Sunday (10/16) featuring some contributor photos of a different former Albertsons, so be sure to come back next weekend to see that as well!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger