Sunday, May 8, 2016

Former Albertsons #4390 - Winter Park, FL

Albertsons #4390/Publix #1308/Publix #1488
440 N. Orlando Ave. Winter Park, FL - Winter Park Village

     Even a very well maintained, very nicely kept early 2000's Albertsons sometimes just doesn't make the cut for Publix's standards. While the exterior of this building hasn't been altered since Albertsons first opened at this site in November 1999, the interior is a completely different story. Publix first inherited this store from Albertsons when they purchased 49 of their Florida stores back in 2008. Publix got this store reopened pretty fast after the acquisition was finalized. Publix swapped out this store's original Grocery Palace/Theme Park interior in favor of their own, along with a few other minor upgrades such as replacing the flooring. So with that, Publix #1308 was opened by the end of 2008. This store is located in a prime location in the center of the relatively high income Orlando suburb of Winter Park, and does an extremely high amount of volume. With a lot going for this store, Publix decided to close this location on April 19, 2014 after barely 6 years in business here in order to perform an extreme remodel on this building. By extreme, Publix essentially tore out the old interior to the bare walls in order to reconstruct this store from scratch, making it an exact copy of most Publix stores opened in the last two years, only with this store being located in the shell of an old Albertsons. Honestly, had the building been any older, Publix would have gotten rid of that too. So after being closed for 7 months, Publix reopened this store as Publix #1488 on November 13, 2014. The new Publix was given every single service, department, frill, bell and whistle that Publix had in their arsenal up to that point, including an Aprons Cooking School, event planning, an Asian bar/sushi counter, a cheese counter, a wine attendant, a cafe, and the largest selection of prepared food that I've ever seen in a Publix.   

     The weirdest part of this store is how Publix did absolutely nothing to the exterior of the building during the major 2014 remodel. Every design detail, the entryway setup, and even the front doors are all original from Albertsons. I guess Albertsons early 2000's setup was close enough to Publix's current design that they didn't have to mess with any of that.  

     Another little quirk about this store from back in its Albertsons days was its store number, #4390. The number was actually a violation to Albertsons Florida's store numbering rule. A store built and opened in 1999 should have had a number in the 4450s or 4460s. 4390 was a number that dates back to the late 80's. I don't believe there were any plans for a store at this site until the late 90's (ruling out a long construction delay), so it's just one of those Albertsons quirks. 

     Some of the detailing on the front of the building. This store was built to match the "Downtown Village" style lifestyle center that this store was built in.

     The back of some of the buildings in the "Downtown Village" are off in the background. Slightly blocked by the column were some outdoor dining tables that Publix added during the most recent renovation (part of one is visible).

     Under Albertsons' old archway over the entrance. What you see in this image is the last original trace of Albertsons that we'll be seeing for a while as we begin to head inside...

     From this point on, what you're about to see is the most recent Publix store prototype, featuring all of the details a Publix built building would feature, including the full blown version of the 3rd Generation Classy Market interior typically reserved for stores that were built from scratch with it.

     The Albertsons would have only had the one set of doors leading straight into the store, although the interior dividing wall would have still been there so this space between the two doors could be used for carts or featured sale items (I've seen Albertsons with both of those configurations).

     After stepping into the store through the main entrance, you're greeted by the deli and the prepared foods departments. At these new Publix stores, the deli is broken into two sections. The first is main deli counter, sandwich station, and deli salads, located in an island off to the left. The second deli, home to the pre-made dinners and such, is off to the right along the wall (we'll see that deli is just a moment).

     Turning immediately to the right after entering and you'll see this store's Publix Cafe. The main features of the Publix Cafe were coffees and ice cream, but I can't remember if there was anything else. Like many of the fancy services you'll see at this store, the cafe was only rolled out with the debut of this prototype. 

     Moving further down the right side wall, where just beyond the cafe is the Sushi/Asian Counter (under the red awning), and the second part of the deli that specialized in prepared foods. As for this store's layout back in the Albertsons days (and in the early days of Publix), it was essentially the mirror of this. Publix's current fresh foods corridor is located in the area where the old Albertsons "Meals to Go", Deli, and Produce departments were located.

     Looking dead on at the "Entrees and Sides" portion of the deli. I happened to be at this store right around 5:00pm as many were on their way home from work, and this section of the store was especially busy. As you'll be able to tell from the photos, due to the crowd, people free shots were fairly difficult to get here.

     The produce department is located across from the prepared foods departments and the bakery, behind the "traditional deli" portion of the deli department.

     The Floral department was randomly placed in this little area between the prepared foods deli and the bakery. 

     Taking a look the other way toward the back of the store, nearing the bakery. You can also see a portion of the soup bar off to the right. The soup bar is the only recent addition to Publix's new expanded prepared foods offering that has been put into just about every one of their current stores. Other then these newer stores, the soup bar at an older store is usually limited to two or three soups (I think they had six different ones here, but I can't remember exactly). In case you were interested, here's a picture of how the Bakery looked at this store after Albertsons left, but before Publix did the massive remodel. The bakery used to be located along the back wall, in the traditional early 2000's Albertsons location.

     The blue bakery bubble. 

     A close-up of the gourmet cake case. These gourmet cakes, part of Publix's "Decadent Desserts" line, have become a huge focus for Publix lately, including commercials completely dedicated to some of these cakes.

     More of the produce department...

     The counter with the blue lights hanging over it is the Publix Aprons Simple Meals station. At this counter they have a person who cooks a sample dish (which changes every few days), and they offer samples of the meal as well as explaining how to make it. This is something else that's featured in almost every other Publix, although the station at this store looks much fancier than the booths put in at the older stores.

     The large cheese counter, complete with a cheese attendant to answer all of those burning questions you've ever had about cheese. And to compliment all of that cheese, right next to all of this is...

     ...The wine department, complete with a wine attendant as well! The wine attendant actually looked pretty bored while I was over here. The wine department is located in the very back of what was Albertsons' produce department.

     Moving further to the left in this store as we leave behind the fresh departments are the Meat and Seafood Counters. These counters are located in the former Albertsons bakery space.

     Beginning to enter the grocery aisles as we continue our tour of this former Albertsons. Due to the placement of the deli island, aisle 1 only runs three quarters the length of the rest of the grocery aisles. The produce department backs up to the left side of this aisle from this viewpoint.

     The round customer service island at the front of the store.

     As you probably saw in the background of the previous photo, behind the customer service desk and between the entrance and exit is the beverage station. Half of this space was devoted to gallon and half gallon containers of Publix's Deli teas and lemonades, and the other half had some of the more popular deli tea and lemonade flavors in machines where you could pour yourself a cup of tea to purchase. This was the first time I've seen this. That gray machine in the middle was a funny looking Coke machine, the only non-Publix brand offering here.

     Moving further into the grocery aisles with this look down the front end of the store. The Pharmacy is off in the background in Albertsons' old pet department.

      And jumping from the front of the store to this look down the back of the store near the meat cases.

     Bulk food offerings.

     The dining area was nothing more than the typical few tables where you could eat your subs/pre-made dinners/ice cream cone from the cafe/random box of Cheerios or whatever else you might have or want to eat after you purchase it.

     The frozen foods department in the center of the store. While the rest of the grocery aisles are located under that drop ceiling, the drop ceiling breaks away over frozen foods before continuing over the rest of the grocery aisles on the other side of the store.

     Part of the health and beauty department, located in its own area in front of the pharmacy counter.

     The pharmacy counter. Due to the layout of the rest of the plaza, Publix didn't install a pharmacy drive thru when they remodeled. Another neat design feature of these newer Publix pharmacies are the glass tiles that surround that part of the drop ceiling that comes down lower than the rest. In person, the glass tiles reflect the light and look like a shiny purple. You can't see the effect in the picture, and honestly, it's hard to even see the tiles themselves in the picture!

     This hallway near the pharmacy is about the only thing to remain from Albertsons after the 2014 remodel. The early 2000's model stores had this hallway located between the video department and the photo counter. While everything around this hallway was stripped down to the core, the hallway for some reason survived all of it. This hallway leads to some electrical panels, offices, and an emergency exit. 

     Now back to the grocery aisles:

     Dairy is in the back left corner, although some of this department wraps along the left side wall. The area in the back left is approximately where this department would be when Albertsons was still here.

     More of the dairy department as it wraps around the left side wall. This area was Albertsons old Frozen Foods department.

     It's getting pretty crowded in here! I think now would be a good time to start heading back outside.

     A final look across the front end back toward the service departments.

     And out we go...

     Speaking of liquor, this sign right outside the exit serves as a good reminder we still have to take a walk over to the old liquor store.

     One final look at the main store before going across the street to the liquor store.

     Yes, the liquor store is actually across the side street from the main store. Due to the layout of the property, attaching the liquor store to the main building wouldn't have worked (which we will see shortly in the satellite imagery). When Publix did their remodel of the main store, I don't believe the liquor store here ever closed. It still retains all of the original characteristics from Albertsons - even including the original entrance and exit decals from Albertsons on the doors!

     I can think of quite a few Albertsons stores which had their accompanying liquor stores built freestanding in the parking lot or off to the side like this due to lot size constraints, so this isn't that rare of an occurrence.

     Anyway, now time for satellite imagery. First off are some Bird's Eye images from Bing Maps:

Front - Even though the Bird's Eye images are old and grainy, they were actually taken while Albertsons was still here. This image also shows the placement of the liquor store in comparison to the main store.

Right Side


Left Side

     And now for some historic aerial images courtesy of Google Earth:

     First, let's start off with this overview of the entirety of the Winter Park Village lifestyle center complex. The former Albertsons/Publix is the large building at the very bottom of the image. The big building to the right is the Regal Winter Park Village 20 movie theater, and the building at the top is a former Ivey's Department Store (later Dillard's) now chopped up into a bunch of smaller stores. Way back when, the current Winter Park Village site was home to the Winter Park Mall. Winter Park Mall opened in 1964 with anchors Ivey's Department store on the north end of the building, and JCPenney on the south end where the Albertsons/Publix is now. The Winter Park Mall wasn't all too big at 377,600 square feet, and it did very well all the way up until 1993, the year when JCPenney decided to move about 3 miles to the south to a new wing that recently opened at Orlando Fashion Square Mall. The departure of JCPenney ended up being the death blow to the mall, with everything else slowly leaving after JCPenney left. By 1996, the mall was practically empty except for Dillard's (who took over the Ivey's chain in 1990). 1996 was the same year a developer bought the mall with plans to convert it into a lifestyle center. Dillard's agreed to stay as the primary anchor to the new lifestyle center, and demolition of the rest of the mall eventually began in 1998. The first pieces of the Winter Park Village lifestyle center began to open in 1999, the same year, where in a shocking twist, Dillard's announced they were going to close their Winter Park location. After some minor turmoil surrounding the new center's primary anchor closing before the official grand opening could be held, it was decided to convert the bottom floor of the old Dillard's into smaller spaces, while the top level became apartments. With Dillard's departure, Albertsons became the primary retail anchor to the center when they opened in November 1999, with the movie theater being the other main draw to the plaza.

     Sorry about the tangent, but I thought everyone wouldn't mind an interesting dead mall story. If you Google "Winter Park Mall" you can find more articles about the place (and some old pictures as well, like this one and this one), although this article from Mall Hall of Fame was pretty good if you'd like to read a more detailed history. Anyway, back to the Albertsons:

Former Albertsons #4390 - 2015 - This image is from after Publix's intensive remodel.

Former Albertsons #4390 - 2013 - And this one was from prior to Publix's intensive remodel. The main difference from this perspective was the removal of the blue roof over the entryway in favor of just the small peak you see today.

Albertsons #4390 - 2006

Albertsons #4390 - 2002

Future Albertsons #4390 - 1999 - The shell of the building has just started to be built here.

Future Albertsons #4390 - 1994 - And there you have the Winter Park Mall in its entirety.

     While on the subject of the mall, below are a few other pictures from around the current complex. I took these two (not so great) pictures on my way out of here, but I guess it's better than nothing:

     The front of the Regal Winter Park Village 20. This is a huge movie theater. I think it's bigger than the old Albertsons, actually. Not only is it big, but it was crowded too that evening. And that line you see here was from a Monday evening crowd.

     This was the best I managed to get as far as a picture of the old Ivey's/Dillards goes. This is a portion of the east side of the building, near the entrance to The Cheesecake Factory. I don't believe anything remains from either the Ivey's or Dillard's days on this building.

     So I'll begin to wrap up this post with one final look at the old Albertsons, where Publix has now made themselves feel right at home. However, there's still one thing missing from this post...

     ...And that would be a look inside back when Albertsons was still here! I still think nothing makes a supermarket feel more complete than a giant bowl of junk food hanging from the ceiling. A Blogger named 'Jazno' took a bunch of pictures of the interior of this store back when it was still an Albertsons in October 2007. His pictures include some very nice looks at this store's Deluxe Grocery Palace/Theme Park interior before Publix stripped all remaining traces of it out. You can see the rest of the pictures from his blog post here (scroll down below all of the random html code that may appear at the top of the page when it first loads).

Well, that's all I have for now. So until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger 


  1. Wow! Really cool, high quality pics at that link; glad you found those! Pretty interesting how Publix gutted the interior but left the exterior (and that one hallway, haha) virtually untouched. Plus the bonus dead mall story is interesting!

    1. I believe the person who took those old pictures of the Albertsons wasn't from the US, and they were extremely intrigued by the crazy Theme Park/Grocery Palace interior (I don't know much about foreign supermarket interiors, but spinning props and giant bowls of snack food hanging from the ceiling must have been a cultural shock for someone unfamiliar to expecting such a thing). I'm pretty sure Publix only left the exterior virtually untouched because the entryway set-up is nearly identical to their current prototype. I've seen other buildings Publix has taken over recently, and if the entryway doesn't match their design, they'll change it to fit their design (with much of the rest of the building keeping the original design).

  2. A few things to note here:

    -The Publix in Cary, NC (Store #1466) opened only sixteen days before this one reopened as store #1488.

    Looking through the pictures, it seems like this store is more in line with the Ballantyne store in Charlotte, or the store in Asheville than the store in Cary since the latter's deli isn't broken and doesn't have the café, Asian food bar, or the Freestyle Coke machine found in this store.

    -This store seems a bit darker than the other stores with this decor package. I looked closely to see if the rafters were painted tan, and that was indeed the case here. Must have been the lighting.

    -It also looks like they removed the (hip style?) roof over the front entrance and replaced it with a gable entrance.

    -A few Lowe's Foods locations dating back from the 1990s and early 2000s (Cary, Gastonia, and Mooresville among others) got similar gut jobs done as well, and the first of these stores will open later this month.

    1. - This design is the one Publix prefers to implement currently when opening a new large format store. Some stores that were in development prior to the rollout of this prototype were still constructed with the older, more stripped down layout (which happened with store #1421 in Titusville, FL - that store opened three months after #1488 opened, but had the old layout).

      - The day after I visited this store, I visited another recently built Publix location with this same floor plan, but in a building built by Publix. The Publix built location felt much brighter, so I agree the lighting was different for some reason.

      - The old square hip roof was removed by Publix, and to make up for that they added a point to the top of the arch over the front entrance. Other than that minor modification, the exterior of the building is exactly as Albertsons left it.

      - Considering Publix is new to North Carolina, they probably want those old Lowe's Foods stores to fit their prototype rather than feeling like an old Lowe's Food, even though they were still relatively new. Considering how established Publix is in Florida, they probably felt they could get away with the cheap remodels, leaving the more elaborate remodels and rebuilds for the most outdated former Albertsons, or for the ones they considered to be their top locations.

  3. The fact that the flooring doesn't match the Albertsons decor suggests (to me) that it was originally another package and then remodeled to this one later.

    1. I'm pretty sure the Albertsons was built with the Grocery Palace interior. That decor was first launched in late 1999, with Texas and Florida being the first two test markets for that interior before it spread chain-wide by 2000. If Albertsons remodeled this store, it would have had to have happened within 2 or 3 years of the original opening (which I couldn't see them doing), and the decor would not have been as detailed as it was. The flooring variation may have been due to this being one of the first stores with Grocery Palace to open.

  4. If you go to Publix #1488, the outside sign now says Publix, Food, Pharmacy, Cooking School, and Publix #1488 is the 1st Publix to have a Starbucks inside Publix!

    1. Interesting! I drove by that store not too long ago but the construction of the new REI in the parking lot made it difficult for me to glance over at the Albertsons/Publix building while driving down Orlando Ave. Publix #310 on Gandy Blvd. in Tampa is also getting a Starbucks, as well as two Publix stores in North Carolina.

  5. That's some wonderful work on Albertsons behalf! I'm sure that store was an experience.