Sunday, October 10, 2021

Former Albertsons #4305 - Jacksonville, FL (Southside)

Albertsons #4305 / Rowe's IGA Market / Publix #1176
2875 University Boulevard West, Jacksonville, FL - University Square

     After making a grand entrance into Florida in late 1974 with two stores in the Tampa Bay area, Albertsons was off to make a grand entrance throughout the rest of the state. Following those two Tampa Bay stores, Albertsons placed another pair in Orlando, and dropped the next pair in Jacksonville, planting the seeds for a new super-sized supermarket concept to sweep the Sunshine State (well, everywhere except for Miami, as we learned last time). While Albertsons' new stores really took off in areas like Tampa Bay, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville was always a more modest Floridian market for Albertsons. While Jacksonville wasn't a total flop like Albertsons' disastrous late-90's expansion into Miami, Albertsons never really penetrated into Jacksonville as much as they did other major cities in Florida. Jacksonville, which comprises the entirety of Duval County, only ever had 5 Albertsons stores within its bounds, with no new stores added following the late 1980's. Albertsons just rode along in Jacksonville for as long as they could with those few stores, the modest sales they generated being just enough to keep those stores going until the company began to hit hard times in the early 2000's. With Albertsons facing financial issues in the early 2000's from unsuccessful overexpansion into new markets and absorbing the purchase of American Stores, some of the company's weaker links began to give. With the Jacksonville area stores only doing marginal business at best, Albertsons made the decision to pull out of Jacksonville and the immediate surrounding areas in 2005 to help ease some of the company's financial burdens (burdens that in the end, would eventually culminate with the sale and split of Albertsons into two companies a year later in 2006).

     In departing Jacksonville, Albertsons sold its area stores to former supermarket executive Rob Rowe, a story I explained in much detail at this post. As you may recall, Rob Rowe used his purchase of these former Albertsons stores to launch his own new chain, called Rowe's IGA Markets, which got off to a rough start. As part of Rowe's IGA Market's turbulent start, Rob Rowe would end up selling the location we'll be exploring today to Publix, along with two of his other locations in 2006 after only a year in business.

      This former Albertsons store on University Boulevard, just like its sister store #4307 in Arlington that we toured previously, were the pair of stores that got Albertsons started in Jacksonville upon their openings in 1975. Both stores were built with the same template, however, store #4307 got a much more extensive remodel by Albertsons in the early 2000's, making it just the tiniest bit more modern in appearance. However, #4307's somewhat recent upgrades must have been just enough for Publix to justify keeping and remodeling that building, as the similarly aged #4305 wasn't so lucky. Once the sale of the property was completed, Publix didn't even bother touching Albertsons' old building. Publix ripped old #4305 right to the ground from the start, building a new Publix store in #4305's footprint, however rotated 90 degrees to face the opposite crossroad. Out from the rubble of Albertsons #4305 came Publix #1176, which opened in 2009 to replace an older existing Publix store across the street.

     With its demolition happening in late 2008/early 2009, old #4305 would be the first of a number of old Albertsons buildings that would meet Publix's wrecking balls in the coming years, as Publix has become tired of operating out of these non-standard locations in many instances. Since this store was torn down so long ago, there really isn't much documentation of it anywhere. Thankfully, YonWooRetail2 came across the first image in this post from a video he was watching a while back, and sent that over to me. AFB thankfully had the foresight way back when to screengrab some old Bing Maps Bird's Eye aerial images showing #4305 while it was still standing, as these images have since been replaced with newer ones showing only the new Publix. That little bit of coverage of the old building is what I'm starting off today's post with, before jumping into the less-exciting modern day ground coverage.

     As you've seen so far, Albertsons #4305 was a fairly standard early Skaggs model store. I was told this store was remodeled in the early 2000's, however, any modifications made were not as extensive as similar remodels at other Albertsons locations in the area. I believe this store closed with a watered-down version of the Grocery Palace decor (as Albertsons seemed to sweep the Jacksonville area stores with that decor), but I'm not entirely sure on that. Unfortunately, Publix didn't keep the building to help me in the search of clues to the past decor, so the interior of this store will remain a mystery for now (unless someone out there happens to remember this place).

     While that's everything we need to know about this building's past, it's time we jump back to the present for a look at what occupies this site now:

     What replaced the former Albertsons building was this fairly average late 2000's Publix store. While this store follows Publix's usual store template almost exactly, I believe it is a bit larger than normal, as this location topped out at 19 aisles compared to the usual 15-16, and had an unusual grocery aisle set-up nearing the pharmacy counter.

     The exterior of the current Publix store isn't anything super exciting either, using one of the few default exteriors Publix throws around for newer stores.

      15 years ago, we'd have been looking at the side of the Albertsons building from this spot. Now, we're looking at Publix's main entrance, through which we'll pass for a quick loop around the store since we're already here:

     Entering the store and turning to the right, floral is the first department we see, followed by the bakery in the front right corner.

      Beyond the bakery, the deli counter finds its home along the right side wall.

     As was common in late 2000's/early 2010's built Publix stores, a lower ceiling arches out from the deli counter over part of the aisle, giving the effect that the deli is located in its own little nook.

     Across from the deli we see the Grab & Go coolers, which are a newer addition to the store. Publix only began adding these dedicated Grab & Go coolers to stores around 2018, creating more space dedicated to pre-made meals and sandwiches.

     As usual, produce is located in the store's back right corner.

     From produce, here's a look across the back wall, looking toward the meat and seafood departments.

     Beyond the meat and seafood counter, the decor fizzles out, leaving just a blank brown wall above the coolers. Occasionally Publix will hang a secondary dairy sign on the back wall to break things up, but that didn't happen here. I guess if nothing else, those vents sticking out of the wall break up the blankness just a bit!

     Poking out of a grocery aisle, we find the store's catering service nook, located between floral and the bakery. The catering department's signage was updated to the latest version, a redesign that debuted shortly before the introduction of Publix's latest decor package, Evergreen.

     Looking across the front of the store, the service desk (located under the round drop ceiling) gets obscured a bit by that display of chips. The pharmacy counter is located in the background as well, but we still have a little bit more store to cover before we arrive at the pharmacy counter...

     When Publix does a rebuild of these old Albertsons stores they've taken over, in pretty much every case, the new Publix that was built occupies the same footprint Albertsons once had. The store here is the only major exception to that rule, with Publix orienting the building 90 degrees to the right from Albertsons' original configuration. In Albertsons' case, the building faced University Boulevard, the busier of the two roads at this crossing. Publix opted to orient the new store to face St. Augustine Road, giving the building less visibility from people driving by on University Boulevard. I don't know the exact reason for Publix doing that, but my only guess is that the building we see today would have been too wide to fit on this property in the old orientation. The property this store is on is shaped like a pentagon (which we'll see later on in the satellite imagery), and due to the strange angling of the east side of the lot, had Publix made Albertsons' old footprint wider to accommodate this building, I believe the back corner of Publix's new store would have come too close to the road. That's my theory as to why the new Publix is oriented differently than the old Albertsons, but for all I know, maybe Publix just prefers an eastern exposure...

      Returning to the store's back wall, the meat coolers begin to transition into lunch meats, followed by dairy.

     Frozen foods are located in the center of the store, typical for a modern Publix.

     The photo above has a tunnel-like effect to it that I quite like.

     Getting into the last few aisles, that's where this store strays a bit from the average modern Publix design. A standard late 2000's newbuild Publix store would usually top out at 15-16 aisles, however, this store has 19 aisles total, making it larger than average for the era. 

     Aisle 15, seen above, is home to the beer coolers. Wine can be found one aisle over in aisle 16, but besides that, the majority of this store's last few aisles are home to health and beauty and other non-food items.

     Stepping over one aisle, here's the wine I mentioned before.

     The first halves of these last few aisles contained most of the health and beauty products, with a little overflow going into a few short aisles in front of the pharmacy counter. While dairy takes up the back portion of aisle 19, its decor extends the entire length of the aisle, even extending into the part that's all health and beauty items! I found it strange seeing the picture of eggs over the cosmetics here, as a decor fail like that is not something you ever see out of Publix!

      Stepping into one of the health and beauty aisles, here's a look toward the back of the store. The shelving in these last few aisles is shorter than normal, probably so Publix can spread more product out over the extra space they had to work with in this building.

     Aisles 15-19 were also split in half by this cut-through. Publix doesn't normally split aisles halfway like this, making for another oddity in this part of the store.

     Greeting cards occupy the back half of aisle 18.

     Getting to the last aisle, here's a look at the remainder of the dairy department, before the aisle transitions into cosmetics as we near the pharmacy counter:

     Publix also updated the pharmacy signage in this store, the new logo hanging above the counter. The pharmacy is located in the store's front left corner, Publix's preferred location for it in modern newbuilds.

     What pharmaceuticals didn't fit into the main aisles behind me could be located here, in these few short aisles.

     From the pharmacy counter, here's a look across the front end before we head back outside...

      Returning outside, here's a look across the front of the building toward Publix's liquor store.

     Publix tucked the liquor store into the front left corner of the building, carrying this service over from Albertsons. The signage for the liquor store becomes a bit hidden under the awning like that, and isn't as easy to spot like the pharmacy sign above.

     So that's what there is to see these days at the site of former Albertsons #4305. Since we already saw some Bird's Eye aerial images at the beginning of this post, we'll jump right into the historic aerial imagery to finish things off, courtesy of Google Earth and

Former Albertsons #4305 - 2019 - The modern layout of the property is seen above, with the new Publix building. The parking lot occupies the bounds of the property, creating that pentagon shape I mentioned before.

Former Albertsons #4305 - 2010 - Publix is very new at this point.

Former Albertsons #4305 - 2007 - The building sits abandoned following the closure of Rowe's IGA Market earlier that year, awaiting it's time with Publix's wrecking balls.

Albertsons #4305 - 2005

Albertsons #4305 - 2001

Albertsons #4305 - 1994 - The building in its original form, prior to the early 2000's remodel.

Albertsons #4305 - 1980

Future Albertsons #4305 - 1970 - Nothing here yet.

     To end this post, I figured I'd briefly mention the old Publix across the street, which the new store at the Albertsons site replaced:

     Pictured above is former Publix #163, which opened on March 30, 1971. This was one of two locations Publix used to mark its grand re-entrance into Jacksonville in the early 1970's. Publix originally made an attempt to enter Jacksonville in 1959 with the opening of a Wing Store in Northside's Gateway Shopping Center. That store closed after only a handful of years, Publix selling that store to hometown chain Winn-Dixie. Publix's re-entry to Jacksonville was much more successful, the company booming and expanding the second time around. Publix even built a new store at Gateway Shopping Center in the early 2000's, home to that short lived original store from the late 50's. Interestingly, Publix's second store at the Gateway Shopping Center also flopped, closing outright after 20 years in business just to, weirdly, get bought by Winn-Dixie again. Not counting Publix's embarrassing attempts at trying to make a go at the Gateway Shopping Center, Publix has continued to thrive in Jacksonville, much like they do everywhere else in Florida. With this store being one of the area's oldest, it's no surprise Publix took Rob Rowe's offer for the old Albertsons building across the street to build a replacement. The picture above shows the building following its relocation across the street, taken from a real estate listing I found a long time ago. All those classic Publix features you see above, including that tile mural, were unceremoniously ripped out when this building was turned into an LA Fitness in the early 2010's. Unfortunately, there isn't much left to see of the supermarkets that once stood at this corner, but thankfully I thought ahead in the early days of this blog to preserve what little documentation there was of these places online, so when the day came for this post, I had a little bit of something to share with everyone.

     Since there isn't much more to see here anymore, that's all I have to say for today's post. Next time, we stay in Jacksonville to tour a bonus store that will certainly impress, as in a city as big as Jacksonville, there's always plenty more to explore out there!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. It's interesting to hear that Publix had a false start in Jacksonville. It seems that even their second effort there wasn't a complete success even if it's pretty successful now. I suppose it makes sense that Publix might have struggled in the land of Winn-Dixie, but then again, it's hard to believe that knowing what we know now! Publix struggling to compete against Winn-Dixie? Why? How?!

    While I probably would have preferred shopping at the Albertsons, this Publix looks pretty nice. I suppose like most things in Jacksonville, things are a bit bigger than usual out here! Although this store has a warehouse-like open ceiling, the colors of this style Publix gives the store a nice, pleasing feel even if the meat department wall is a bit bare and industrial looking. It's still better than HEB who would have a storage area behind the back 'wall' area which would really make it look industrial! Most everything here looks good here aside from that back wall, the eggs in the pharmacy area decor fail, and that catering sign. Ugh. That nEvergreen decor gives me the shivers even when it's a very small dose of it!

    I was at one of the local HEBs yesterday briefly (don't worry, I did most of my shopping at Randall's!) and it was one of the nicer, bigger HEBs in the area. One thing I noticed is that they opened a curbside pickup office up at the front of the store. To be honest, I have no idea what was in that space before, but I guess it was probably a leased area maybe for the failed Rite Aid RediClinic. Anyway, it has an automatic door and facilities for HEB staff to scan items and store them. It almost looks like something a customer could walk into by accident, but they do have big signs on the automatic doors saying it is for employees only. It's a bit unusual to see something like that at a grocery store, but shopping at an HEB these days is like shopping at a warehouse as there are employees filling big huge carts for online orders. Often, the employees are in a hurry and aren't so considerate of the other, normal shoppers at the store as they rush to grab items off the shelf even if someone else is standing right there. Ahh, these must be the joys of HEB that almost everyone here loves. Surely you can sense my sarcastic tone, lol. Don't worry, I was only in the HEB for about 5 minutes (thankfully their checkout lines are fast) as compared to nearly an hour at the Randall's which was a much more pleasant experience.

    Speaking of possible online order fulfillment fails, what's the story with that cart in the frozen food aisle of the Publix where there is a handbasket hanging from the child seat seatbelt?! That kind of seatbelt abuse seems ironic given Albertsons' usually strong encouragement back in the 1990s that cart passengers buckle up, lol. Those signs were one of the most memorable parts of Albertsons' brief period in Houston. If I had to guess, I would guess Publix employees were using that setup to gather online order items, but I don't know. Maybe a regular customer did that?

    Taking a brief look at University Boulevard West, I see a failed Whataburger! That would be an unusual sight in Texas for sure. Next to it is a rather nice looking and probably recently rebuilt Wendy's. The idea of Wendy's outlasting a Whataburger seems preposterous here, but I guess such is reality in Northern Florida.

    Speaking of fast food, Florida, and Houston, I was recently researching early Burger Kings in Houston, and they were here pretty early on, and it was interesting to see that all the early calls for franchises that were in the newspaper had an address for Jacksonville on it. That's not the Florida city I usually associate with Burger King, but I guess that is part of their history!

    1. You have to dig really deep to find that piece of information about Publix pulling out of Jacksonville in the early 60’s and then returning in the early 70’s – it’s not a fact Publix likes to make well known! Publix did something similar in Statesboro, GA as well – opening a store there in the early 90’s just for it to close a few years later, and then returning to town with a new store later on (that new store opening in 2022). Publix has nothing to fear anymore in Jacksonville though. Even though it’s Winn-Dixie’s home turf, Publix is #1 in Jacksonville, and the official supermarket partner of the Jacksonville Jaguars (bumping Winn-Dixie from that title in 2013).

      Publix doesn’t have any of these large, elaborate pickup rooms like HEB, Kroger, and other chains have been adding in. In the recent newbuilds, Publix’s pickup area is a little nook off to the side of the service desk, with a few shelves and coolers for orders to be placed on once they’re finished being picked. It’s not a big space at all. Older stores get the same setup, but its placement varies, and usually gets stuffed somewhere in the front end. I never see the Publix order pickers in much of a hurry. They usually stroll the aisles casually and do their thing, unlike the people picking orders at Walmart and Target, who will run you down if you get in their way! That cart in the frozen food aisles is definitely from one of Publix’s online order pickers, as they always set up the carts with paper bags like that. I think the person picking that order just had a weird system for picking and separating everything, though crazy looking, probably makes things more efficient.

      Whataburger has had some not-so-great experiences expanding into Florida. They tried to enter Central Florida in the early 2000’s and failed, leaving only the Jacksonville locations and a few in the Panhandle. I’ve seen a few of the Jacksonville area ones come and go too, but they still must do well there overall, as more new Whataburgers are still being built up there. I’ve been wanting to try Whataburger when I go to Jacksonville, but I haven’t gotten around to doing that just yet. And while Burger King is typically associated with Miami, the first incarnation of Burger King was actually located in Jacksonville, so therefore that’s where the headquarters ended up until the Miami franchisees took over the chain and relocated everything down there.

    2. Unrelated but related to the Statesboro Publix: The Statesboro store (Publix #460) may have only lasted for 5 years (possible theory) till maybe 1999. Also I just realized both #460 and the Gazebo in Jacksonville (Jacksonville is where this post in so that's a coincidence) were both abandoned for a long time (Though I already said that in a previous post).

    3. As far as I’m aware, Statesboro is the longest abandoned Publix (since 1999), and The Gazebo is the second longest (since 2007). The old Panama City Beach store (#489) and Merritt Square (#156) were abandoned for a long time too, but both of those have since found new tenants in the last few years. With Publix returning to Statesboro in 2022, I don’t know why they didn’t choose to reopen in their old building. The new store is going to be way on the edge of town, and the old store was right in the heart of the retail district.

    4. I'd be interested to see how much or little has changed on the inside of the Statesboro store after all of these years. It seems like a prime candidate to have some Wavy Pastel remnants!

  2. Ignoring the entryway at the bottom of the photo in this picture of yours:, you could think that this actually was an early 2000's Albertsons that Publix had taken over, by the design accents on the top of the facade reminds me a lot of an Albertsons. That aside, everything else is plain ole cookie Cutter Publix.

    This Albertsons looks like it did great business during its first 20 years in business! The parking lot in those older aerial imagery looked pretty packed!

    If you go onto St. Augustine Blvd and take Streetview back to November 2007, you can see the original Albertsons building after Rowe's pulled out. It is sad looking.

    Bring close to a University and various thriving residential neighborhoods probably helped give this store a good run. By the 2000's though Walmart and Publix began the dual dominion of the Jax area I'm afraid.

    While this current Publix is nice and clean as usual, it's still strangely boring to me on the inside. I'm sure it'll get the upgrade to Full Evergreen in the not distant future.

    1. I’ve always found it strange how Albertsons got off to a strong start in Jacksonville, but would eventually become one of the weaker markets for the Albertsons in the state. Even until the early 2000’s Albertsons was building new stores around Tampa, Orlando, and Palm Beach/Broward, but Albertsons essentially gave up on Jacksonville in the early 90’s. Thanks for pointing out the old Streetview imagery too – the place does look really sad back then. While the new Publix is fancier then the old Albertsons it replaced, it’s certainly not as interesting!

    2. (Reply to AFB's post and referring to the new store) And not as interesting as the University Mall Publix either.

  3. The placement of the egg picture makes me wonder if that's where the eggs were originally, and were moved at some point to make room for more health and beauty products. Looking at the angle from the dairy aisle, it looks like the coolers could have extended all the way down at one point. Either that or the decor was simply installed wrong. Either way, it adds a little bit of visual interest to what would otherwise be a pretty standard classy market Publix.
    It was a nice bonus seeing the former Publix at the Gateway shopping center. I'd love to hear the story behind that one sometime.

    1. I believe the standard Publix newbuilds typically have the coolers running all the way down the wall to the pharmacy, so there’s a chance some coolers were moved/removed to make the health and beauty space larger. I don’t think Publix has any graphics for health and beauty, so maybe the décor installation crew put up the egg picture to fill the blank space, since eggs were further down the aisle anyway. Who knows the actual reason though…

      The Gateway Shopping Center has quite the interesting history to it. The original Wing Store building isn’t very recognizable anymore, but the modern Publix to Winn-Dixie is quite the oddity. I’d love to see a photo of the Gateway Wing Store after Winn-Dixie got that one though, as I’d like to see if Winn-Dixie kept the wing façade.

  4. I was surprised to see in the aerial imagery how the new Publix building is bigger than the old Albertsons. Normally we hear a lot on the blog about how the Albertsons stores are too big for Publix, so this one is certainly a difference! That would definitely explain the orientation swap, too. Besides that, you'd think it wouldn't be too majorly interesting, but there are a few unusual items that make the store stand out... the fact that it's one of the earliest Albertsons teardowns Publix did, for example, or that very strange liquor sign that doesn't seem in character for them at all. Even worse where something out of character is concerned: that dairy signage over cosmetics! Wow! I wouldn't be shocked to come back later and find that that part of the post has been scrubbed out of existence by Publix's Men in Black team XD I would have to share Ross's theory from above on how that got to be. Still, pretty odd that it has survived this long -- especially since we know they've given the store other updates, what with the pharmacy and catering signage.

    It's also very interesting to hear of Publix's comparatively unsuccessful past in Jacksonville! And Statesboro, too -- I might have visited the old store when I was in town, had I known! Of course, I should have gone to the BI-LO there, too; but you life and you learn, I guess...

    1. At least I had some small things to make this Publix store a little more interesting than the average one! The décor malfunction in health and beauty is probably the most interesting one, as that’s not something you’d ever see in a Publix (and hopefully I don’t anger their Men in Black team any more by continuing to bring that up!). However, I don’t think they’d be too happy with me for spreading the stories of the Statesboro and early Jacksonville failures either! Digging really deep into Publix’s history, it’s crazy the oddities I’ve found.

  5. I noticed that this store was one of the lucky few to get the revised late-Classy Market 3.0/early-Evergreen Aprons signage on the cooking demonstration station. I wonder how Publix decides which stores get pharmacy/Aprons signage updates vs. a full remodel because store #1167 south of Orlando has the updated graphics for both but still sports Classy Market 2.5! I've seen other Classy Market 3.0 stores get the new signs but it seems really arbitrary. Sadly, it looks like COVID took the cooking demos as a victim and they are gone for good. I first noticed in August that Publix began removing the Aprons cooking stations and coolers in Georgia and replacing them with temporary end-caps for chips, etc. Now they only have the pre-packed kits, typically near the custom-cut meat counter.

    I also find it strange that they updated the pharmacy/Aprons signs in this store but not the checkout line cube fixtures.

    1. I’ve noticed lately that pretty much every Publix store I’ve been to has gotten the new pharmacy and Aprons signage, regardless of what décor package it currently has. I think it’s just a chain-wide sweep to replace all of the signs with the updated logos to keep everything current, as that’s the only way Publix would have it. The updated logos debuted before the pandemic, so most likely this store got its new signage before the Aprons demo stand was formally decommissioned. It was sad seeing that go, as I liked trying those little dishes they made, but I had heard from some others that those demo stations weren’t making much money, and some stores had gotten rid of that feature before the pandemic for that reason.

    2. I'm not quite a fan of that, it does feel tacky and the Publix catering brand is to me an example of all the branding minimalism going on as of late. I do seem to recall at a store opened last year they still included an Aprons counter (wrapped as a "Club Publix" station)?

  6. Is the current Publix store a 54M? Relevant to this is the fact that 54M stores were essentially upscaled versions of the 45M layout until 2011 when a unique layout was introduced.

    1. It could be an old 54M, as my rough estimate of the building’s size from measurements in Google Earth is around 55,000 square feet. However, there wasn’t any difference to the service departments in size or selection here – it was just a 45M with a few extra aisles tacked on to the end.

    2. Actually, I can confirm it is indeed a 54M. Another such example is store #1349 in Leesburg, GA that opened the same year. Anyhow I do wonder what the differences were between this and the newer models that came out later that allowed for increased selection/features.

    3. I checked the square-footage of Leesburg on Google Earth and it looks like it is actually a 45M. It also doesn't have the high aisle count or extended selection of greeting cards. However, #1228 in Prattville, AL is another first-gen 54M like the store in this post (I've been to that store). Aisle count tops out at 19.

  7. Another reason for the small shelves on the cosmetics isles at Publix 1176 is many of those items are very small and high cost making them easy targets for thieves. They really don't want to display many, but also don't want the section to look empty so smaller shelves give the illusion of being more filled