Saturday, May 14, 2022

Planned Albertsons #44XX - Port Charlotte, FL (And A Former Publix Too!)


Planned Albertsons #44XX
NWC of Veterans Boulevard and Peachland Boulevard, Port Charlotte, FL

     After my break from blogging last time, your very own AFB returns this week for a slightly different kind of post. We're going to get a little bit of Albertsons and a little bit of Publix in today's post, but not in the way we're normally accustomed to. Our Albertsons story and our Publix story involve two separate pieces of land, but these two stories do intertwine in a weird way as we'll see in a little bit. Some interesting things to see and talk about in today's post, so let's get right into this:

     Port Charlotte and its sister city North Port (originally called North Port Charlotte) was the first massive Floridian mega-development constructed by the Mackle Brothers owned-company General Development Corporation (GDC) in the mid-1950's. GDC was a sister company to the still-extant Deltona Corporation, whose primary goal was to build massive new residential communities in which the company could sell lots to northerners wanting to move to the tropical paradise that was Florida. The combined mass of Port Charlotte and North Port is absolutely huge (approx. 150 square miles), and even in 2022, still has sections that aren't even touched yet by development. However, those empty sections of town are just a testament to the development's massive size - going into the early 2000's, the combined North Port and Port Charlotte were pushing a population of 100,000 residents, with more people moving to the area on top of that. While Port Charlotte had enough of a population to attract a 1 million square foot mall to be built in the development's central core in 1987, it took Albertsons a surprisingly long time to develop an interest in putting a store in the area. Prior to the plans announced in the clipping above, the nearest Albertsons stores to Port Charlotte would have been the long-established #4346 in Venice 20 miles to the north, and the recently-opened #4458 in northern Cape Coral 30 miles to the south, a surprising gap in coverage for such a sizably populated region.

     While the area around Port Charlotte Town Center Mall and points north and south along Tamiami Trail are typically considered the retail hub of the area, at the turn of the 2000's, a population boom was happening in the far eastern part of the Port Charlotte area, close to the city's interchange with I-75 at Kings Highway. That area is known as the Sandhill development, and saw the construction of a new Publix and Winn-Dixie store in the mid-1990's, as well as additional highway-side businesses clustering around the interchange. In addition, new housing and apartments were popping up in the area too, making it more attractive to new businesses who wanted to establish themselves in the area. Wanting a piece of the development boom, Albertsons finally announced in late 2000 their intentions to build a store in the Port Charlotte area, placing the new store on an empty lot directly across from the existing Sandhill development Publix store in the Peachland Promenade Shopping Center.

     Albertsons' plans called for a new 57,560 square foot supermarket to be built on the property in Port Charlotte, alongside an attached liquor store and a 2,000 square foot Albertsons Express gas station to be built on an outparcel. While the plans for the new Albertsons were announced in late 2000, it appears that details were still being finalized for the project come 2002, as seen in the clipping from a county document below:

     The clipping above comes from a county document issued in July 2002, granting Albertsons a partial approval of their new supermarket project. The document explained that the county was all for the project, but Albertsons had to fix a few issues related to storm water runoff before construction could actually begin. However, this document from July 2002 was the last trace I could find of Albertsons' involvement in putting a store in Port Charlotte. I don't know if the storm water tweaks were too much of a hassle for Albertsons to deal with, or if the back and forth with the county dragged on into the 2003/2004 timeframe, getting to the point where Albertsons was giving up on Florida, and the plans were scrapped for that reason.

     While the exact reasons for Albertsons pulling out of the Port Charlotte project will remain a mystery, we came very close to seeing an Albertsons pop up on the plot of land in the image above. I'm not entirely sure how Albertsons wanted to place their building on the property above, but it would have been in there somewhere.

     Zooming out just a bit, we can see the proposed Albertsons site in relation to the Publix store across the street (Publix #408). By the time Albertsons' plans had come along, Publix had been established across the street for 10 years. However, shortly after plans for the new Albertsons store were announced, Publix threw out a little surprise of their own:

     In March 2001, Publix announced their intent to replace the existing 10 year old Peachland Promenade store with a brand new one. That new location was to be built on the empty lot adjacent to the existing shopping center. Whether prompted by the population boom or the threat of a new Albertsons popping up across the street, at the turn of the new millennium, it really looked like things were heating up in the supermarket wars of eastern Port Charlotte. Sadly, just like what happened with the plans for the new Albertsons across the street, Publix's plans for a new store fell through also:

     Come 2004, I found a document in the Charlotte County records where Publix was filing permits to do an interior remodel of their existing Peachland Promenade store (a snippet of which can be seen above). With Publix looking to do a remodel, that meant the replacement plans were called off, an odd development for sure. The fact that Publix's new store was called off after Albertsons's plans fell through seem to suggest the new store was primarily a response to the new Albertsons opening across the street. There is the chance that both plans falling through were purely coincidence, but it is intriguing to think that there was a time when Publix actually felt threatened by Albertsons!

     Going into the late 2000's, Peachland Promenade remained as it was, with a freshly remodeled Publix #408 chugging along as it had for years prior.

     By 2010, the planned Albertsons site across the street had been cleared with access roads installed, although there still wasn't anything definitive planned for the site. This work appears to have been done to make the property more attractive with the land "shovel ready" when a prospective new tenant came along.

     Coming into the early 2020's, the Albertsons site has been mostly developed into two separate apartment communities, with some small retail establishments on the outparcels facing the main roads (those small establishments including an Auto Zone, Firestone Auto Care, a bank, and an extended stay hotel). That combination of tenants sounds about right for a stereotypical 2020's development project in Florida, just minus the new gym and self-storage complex!

     The site isn't anything to write home about, so while in the area myself, I only took this one photo of the property while I was waiting at the light out front. The entire development is called "Springs at Port Charlotte" (as noted on that sign in the background), with the new hotel situated right on the corner of Peachland and Veterans, presumably where the Albertsons Express would have been built had Albertsons' plans gone through.

     While Albertsons' plans for a new store in Port Charlotte completely fizzled out, Publix decided to keep theirs on file. Even though Publix didn't get their new store in 2001 like originally announced, Publix decided to dust off their plans for a new Peachland Promenade store come 2012, building a much larger modern store in the same place where the 2001 location would have gone. The above image shows the new Publix under construction, serving as a small extension to the existing strip of stores on the site.

     The new store, Publix #1438, opened on March 13, 2013, 12 years after Publix initially announced their intent to build a new store on that adjacent property. So instead of lasting for only 10 years, the original Publix #408 got to live for 22 years - a bit more reasonable of a timeframe for a replacement situation. So what do you guys think - do you think Publix's original plans for a replacement were a direct response to the new Albertsons, or just a coincidence?

     Since that's about all there is to say about the planned Albertsons store, we'll use the remainder of this post to look at Publix #408 (or what remains of it, anyway, as there's a bit more to this place than a few satellite images of an empty lot). Even though Publix #408 closed in 2013, I managed to find a few pictures of the store on a website called, where people post pictures of random places and tag them to a map. Publix #408 had a really neat "old Florida" themed exterior, an exterior theme I've seen on a few modern Publix stores, but was pretty rare for these older generation stores.

     Here's a close-up of #408's right side entrance, through the doors of which we can see the original Wavy Pastel tile pattern on the wall. However, this store did not close with Wavy Pastel, as the remodel permit I found from 2004 would suggest this store did get Classy Market 1.0 after the original replacement plans fell through. Since this store lasted until 2013, there's a chance it could have remodeled once more before the new store opened too. However, I didn't find any interior pictures to see what decor this store had in its later years, or if it did go out with Classy Market 1.0.

     A blue tile pattern lined the front of the store, matching the blue paint scheme of the entire building. Some classic late 2000's Publix banners line the windows of the vestibule too.

     Here's one last look at #408 while it was still open. After the new store opened in 2013, the original location sat abandoned until 2017, when it began the transformation into what we'll be seeing today:

     After Publix moved to the other end of the plaza, the original building was remodeled away from its old Florida styling to this more modern stone and stucco motif. Following the remodel, the building still retained its original Publix look and shape, just spruced up a bit. The sloped metal roof panels are the only trait from the building's original design to survive the remodel, everything else being new. The entirety of the former Publix sat vacant until 2017, when Planet Fitness took the right-most half of the space for a new gym. The left half of the building sat vacant until 2021, when Goodwill moved from the other end of the plaza to the much larger slice of the former Publix building.

     Publix's signing would have been in that middle section of the facade, but with the building subdivided now, the individual tenant signs have been moved to the towers that marked each of Publix's original entryways.

     With Goodwill taking over a chunk of the old Publix, I was hoping to find some fun Publix relics inside, as a thrift store wouldn't be too thorough with a remodel, right? The doors we see here are original to Publix, as well as the design and aesthetic of the vestibule.

     Goodwill added the mural we see on the wall to the left (which depicts the nearby Charlotte Harbor), and painted the old Wavy Pastel tiles underneath the mural to solid blue.

     Leaving the vestibule, the inside of the new Goodwill is pretty disappointing. Goodwill gutted the interior prior to moving in, leaving only the original terrazzo floors and one other little surprise behind from the Publix days (and that other surprise we'll see in a little bit).

     This particular Goodwill store is run by Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, who is the entity that runs all the Goodwill stores in Charlotte, Lee, Collier, and Hendry Counties. In my travels I've been to a few stores run by Goodwill of Southwest Florida, and while some have been bland and modern like this one, I did find one location in particular that was a goldmine of supermarket history. As you can probably tell, this was not that goldmine of supermarket history, but we'll be seeing that particular store another day!

     Like some of the various Goodwill operators in Florida, Goodwill of Southwest Florida skews toward selling a lot of new merchandise, which to me sucks a lot of the fun out of the traditional "treasure hunt" thrift store experience. However, Goodwill of Southwest Florida isn't as bad as Goodwill Suncoast (Tampa Bay's Goodwill operator) when it comes to new merchandise - Goodwill Suncoast felt like it was mostly new stuff for sale!

     Anyway, AFB's thrift store rant of the day aside, the photo above looks across the back wall of the old Publix store. Publix's meat coolers would have been located along this wall, with the service counter and produce located in the background in the back left corner.

     Turning around toward the front of the building again, here's a look at the second Publix's surprise Goodwill left behind. When the building was subdivided, Goodwill inherited half of Publix's upstairs offices (a traditional feature in these early 90's Publix stores - that window showing their location). The upstairs offices would have ran the length of the front end between the two vestibules, but now get chopped off half way due to the subdivision. The stairs to the upper offices and the restrooms are located in the same place Publix would have had those too.

     Back on the sales floor, here's a look toward the left side of the building, where Frozen Foods would have been. If you look closely at the floor, you can see the scars from where Publix's grocery aisles would have been.

     Goodwill's community resource center occupies the space that was previously the Publix Bakery. The book nook is where Frozen Foods used to be.

     From books, here's a look into the building's back left corner, where produce used to be. The former produce space is now home to furniture and wall art.

     Our last interior photo shows Goodwill's front end, with another look at the window from Publix's former second floor offices.

     While there wasn't much left to see from Publix inside, the outside of the building is still has plenty of Publix relics, like these windows running the length of the vestibule. The old blue and white checkerboard tiles have now been painted over in beige, but you can still see the outline of the tiles if you look closely at the wall under the windows.

     Over on the Planet Fitness side of the building, we see they kept Publix's original vestibule design, but replaced their original automatic doors with these manual ones. Planet Fitness did just as thorough a remodel to the interior of their half of the building as Goodwill did, so there wasn't much to see in here.

     A very tiny bit of the building's original old Florida aesthetic remains in the middle section between the two vestibules, with the detailing on the columns and the metal roofing panels.

     And with one last look at the exterior, that's what remains of Publix #408. Even if a lot of the interior was wiped away, at least the exterior aesthetic of the old Publix was kept, still making it pretty obvious what used to be here at a quick glance.

     Between the old Publix and the new Publix was this building, which was Goodwill's prior home before jumping over to the old Publix space. The old Goodwill building was built new around 2013, and wasn't previously a pharmacy (which it convincing looks like, especially in a Publix-anchored shopping center from the early 1990's).

     To finish out this post, here are a few photos of Publix #1438. I didn't go inside, but you can see some photos of the interior here. It's a pretty average modern 54M Publix, which appears to have opened with Classy Market 2.5 and later remodeled to Classy Market 3.0/Sienna.

     From looking at this modern Publix, you'd never realize how complicated of a history this place had, and how it possibly intertwined with the plans for a store across the street that never came to be. It's amazing what kind of stories these rather ordinary supermarkets can hold, and how Albertsons nearly changed the entire landscape of this intersection in Port Charlotte!

     With all of this talk about Publix and Albertsons today, Winn-Dixie is probably feeling a little left out of the party. That being said, I have a fun Winn-Dixie related post coming up next time before we return to our regularly scheduled Albertsons stuff. Come back in two weeks for that!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. Seeing Albertsons scrap plans to build a new store in the early 2000s is hardly something unusual here in Houston! This happened many times as Albertsons left town in 2002. Many of the planned 'It Was Supposed To Be Your Store' locations ended up becoming Kroger or other grocers. I know Mike of Houston Historic Retail will have something about this in the near future. As for the situation in this post, I would have to guess that Publix was planning on opening the new store as a response to the new competition from Albertsons. Once Albertsons was out of the picture, Publix felt they could milk a few years out of the 'old' location.

    That old Publix looks quite strange! It looks quite Floridian I suppose, but it does look strange for a Publix. I'm not sure why Publix felt so confident that they needed to replace it since Publix stores aren't all that big in size anyway, but I guess they did feel the need to do build a new store. I wonder if Publix has any issue with selling their older locations near newer locations off to other grocers. Evidence from other posts about replaced Publixes on this blog seems to indicate that they don't have a huge problem with it. At least here in Texas, HEB likes to hang onto old locations so that competing grocers can't move into them and threaten their near-monopoly status in certain parts of Texas. There's a certain dark side to HEB (well, a very large dark side, IMO), but I'm not sure if Publix is so aggressive in this regard.

    It's a bit strange seeing so much new merchandise inside that Goodwill! Our Goodwills have almost no new merchandise, but I think they did start selling new mattresses at some stores here lately. Really, Goodwill has been closing a lot of locations around here slowly over the last 5-6 years. Perhaps this is logical since they opened so many locations, some very close to other another, at around the turn of the 2010s. Perhaps now things are normalizing a bit.

    There are a couple of Florida-related retail bits of news here going on in Houston here lately. Well, actually the first has nothing to do with Florida, but it's about a chain I first learned about on the AFB/MFR so I consider them honorary Floridians at least, lol. It seems that Dollar General is bringing PopShelf to Houston and in quite a large way as I've seen plans for several locations in Houston...including at least one in my part of town where Dollar General currently does not have any of their own regular stores. We won't have the attached DG Market like what was in your post about PopShelf, but we will have standalone PopShelfs.

    The other bit of news is that I saw plans for Bealls/Burke's Outlet to open a HomeCentric store in Galveston. It actually looks like it is going into a Marshalls (or TJMaxx? I forget which) that will be relocating soon. HomeCentric is new to me and I don't think there are any in the Houston area right now so we'll have to see what they're about. From what I can tell from photos from Florida locations, it looks like yet another discount/closeout retailer of 'Live, Laugh, Love' merchandise. I suppose there's someone in Florida who thinks there's more unfilled demand for that stuff!

    1. This isn't the only Albertsons store plan scrapped in Florida in the early 2000's - we'll be exploring a few more of those eventually, but the canceled plans here were certainly low in comparison to all the projects Albertsons put a stop to in Houston at the time. Of all the sites Albertsons canceled in Florida in the early 2000's, a handful become home to other supermarkets, but many others didn't. There really wasn't any consistency to that. I'm pretty convinced that Publix's new store was a direct response to Albertsons' plans, as the announcement of Publix's plans was too timely to be a pure coincidence.

      I've never seen another Publix with the same facade as the original store here, so it was unique! The early 2000's were a time when Publix was experimenting with larger stores, namely the 61,000 square foot prototype mentioned in the articles for the original replacement store (the largest building design Publix has ever built themselves). 61,000 square feet is still a pretty small size for a supermarket in many parts of the US (like Houston), but that's huge in Florida. Albertsons could have been a big factor in Publix wanting to try out "larger" stores at the time, but with Albertsons later going into decline, Publix probably didn't feel the need to experiment with larger stores anymore. I've seen a lot of old Publix stores get recycled as other grocers, and some that get recycled as a smattering of other things. Besides a few random exceptions, old Publix stores typically find reuse pretty quick, as Publix is usually very good at picking out locations. I think Publix is at the point where they feel they're so powerful, they really don't care what takes over their old stores, and any other grocer that would move in would just be a blip to them.

      My local Goodwill operator (Goodwill of Central Florida) is almost entirely donated merchandise, outside of the random closeout buys of seasonal merchandise (like Halloween costumes and decorations) they bring in from time to time. I thought it was weird seeing other Goodwill operators selling so much new stuff, until I noticed it was pretty common at a few of the various Florida operations.

      Dollar General has been pretty aggressive about expanding PopShelf, so I'm not surprised a number are on their way to Houston. So far all I've seen personally are DG Market/Popshelf combos (which most DG Markets seem to be converting to), but I do know Popshelf standalone stores are on their way to Florida too. HomeCentric is a fairly new concept from Beall's Florida, and most of the ones I've seen by me are part of a Bealls Outlet/HomeCentric combo store (although HomeCentric stand-alone locations aren't uncommon). HomeCentric is basically Bealls' take on HomeGoods, so your perception of the store is pretty much accurate!

  2. It's kinda weird to see that Publix wouldn't replace this store till a whole decade later also I do agree that the old Publix exterior is nice

    It actually did hang on to 1.0 till it closed according to the photos from that Pepsi flickr that contained loads of stores. ( (

    1. I think the cancelation of the original plans had to be because of a response to the new Albertsons across the street, as it's pretty rare for Publix to delay a project like this for so long.

      Thanks for the confirmation about the decor in #408 too. It seemed most likely that it closed with CM 1.0, but I just didn't have any proof to go off of.

  3. While it doesn’t surprise me, I had no idea Port Charlotte was a planned development like that. I can also understand why Albertsons needed sufficient storm water plans for that property; like much of South and Central Florida, it looks like half of the parcel is a swamp!
    Also, the fact that Publix was planning to build a 61M store to replace an at-that-time 10-year-old 49N seems crazy. Publix loves to maintain their dominance, and this seems like another prime example! I also find it interesting how Publix decided not to continue on with building a 61M but instead opted for a second-gen 54M. The fact that the plans for the new store waited 12 years and Publix decided to decrease the square-footage makes me strongly believe the original store was a response to Albertsons. It seems reasonable for them to replace a 22-year-old store.
    I believe Publix #408 did close with Classy Market 1.0 for several reasons: 1). It seems like most Publix remodels I have seen from the 2008-2014 (and those dates are approximate) would have scraped off those Wavy Pastel tiles and replaced them with white ones. 2). I found this 2013 picture ( ) of the store on the Foursquare listing for the new one. Most people would just see some toilet paper, a diet Pepsi, and a lot of coffee creamer, but I see a 1990’s Publix checkout conveyor belt which would have been replaced in a CM 2.x remodel, a Wavy Pastels awning (which doesn’t give us many hints), and a smidgen of a CM 1.0 customer service sign and shutter panel at the top of the picture. Therefore, it seems to me like Publix #408 closed with Classy Market 1.0.
    I personally like the look of the old Publix better than the modern stucco façade. At least the Floridian design was a bit more unique! I’m also surprised to see so much new merchandise in a Goodwill. Every one I have ever been to only sells donated stuff, save a few snacks by the registers. It also looks like Goodwill brought the left wall of the store toward the salesfloor for more storage space because the terrazzo would have ended had they extended that wall to the edge of their building past the last freezer aisle. They must have closed off the old produce nook.

    1. Once all that cheap swampland was opened up to developers, they went crazy building mega-developments like Port Charlotte down here. And there's plenty more of them to be found too. Looking at the satellite image of the undeveloped Albertsosn site, that giant wetland blob jumped right out at me, as those are always a pain to develop. That being said, I'm not surprised Albertsons ran into difficulties trying to come up with a drainage plan for that property.

      Even though Publix's original replacement plans here failed, elsewhere in Florida, Publix did successfully replace a 10 year old store with a 61M over in Orlando in 1998 (at least I'm pretty sure the replacement was a 61M). Publix #353 opened in 1988, and in 1998 is was replaced by store #654 down the road. I always thought that was a fast turnaround for a new store, but Publix was about to do the same thing again here! I'm pretty convinced the original replacement plans were a direct response to the new Albertsons, due to the timing, and also the fact that the original replacement store was proposed to be a 61N, making the Publix bigger than the new Albertsons would have been.
      Your evidence and the photos linked to by Anonymous above do seem to prove this store closed with CM 1.0, which makes the most sense.

      Considering the theming of the original part of Peachland Promenade, I'm surprised that wasn't carried over to the new store, as the old Florida styling appears much more frequently with Publix's newer stores. The new store's facade certainly isn't as interesting as the original's! My local Goodwill operator (Goodwill of Central Florida) runs on pretty much all donated goods (except for a few closeout buys of seasonal merchandise they bring out from time to time). However, Goodwill of SW Florida isn't the only operator I've seen rely so heavily on new items, and it's crazy how differently all the operators run their stores!

    2. That is interesting how #353 was replaced after only 10 years. #654 is actually a 51T prototype (as I refer to them), and it is approximately 51,000 sq. ft. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure whether Publix was still using the 60T format or had moved on to the 61M by the time #408 was first supposed to be replaced. I only know of one 60T being built, and that is #640 from 1998 (there could easily be others), so the replacement would have likely been a 61M like #754. It is shocking how Publix planned to build a store larger than Albertsons!

      I also believe the flagship 65N from the 1990's (think stores #412 & #415), is Publix's largest prototype at approximately 65,000 sq. ft.

      It is a shame that the replacement store doesn't have quite the character of the original!

  4. I lived in Port Charlotte from 2002 to 2008 and I remember that Peachland Publix. As a matter of fact, when I started working at Publix, I went to that store for job orientation. I liked the look of that location. Last time I was in there, they were in the process of remodeling it to the Classy Market 1.0.

    It’s a crying shame Albertsons didn’t open a store, as I would have liked to have one there (I was always wishing that one would open)

    1. That's very interesting to hear about your personal connection to the original Peachland Promenade Publix! The facade was unique, and I liked the look of it myself from those photos I found.

      Port Charlotte seemed like a good market for Albertsons to have a store in, so I'm surprised they waited as long as they did to try opening a store there. It's a shame the Peachland Albertsons never came to be, as Albertsons came so close to getting those plans approved. It's interesting to think about how different that corner would have looked today had Albertsons built that store, and Publix built their replacement location around the same time.

    2. I’m glad you found my personal connection interesting. It was a nice store as well as a nice shopping center. That land nearby would have been a great place for Albertsons.

      Their plans to open a store there seems to be around their little turning point when they were starting to feel the pinch from competitors in the state. I grew up in the Fort Lauderdale area (Margate) and we had Albertsons there. We shopped there from time to time. When we relocated to Port Charlotte, as I stated before, I wished and hoped that an Albertsons would open in that area, but no such luck.

  5. It's intriguing to think that Publix may have initiated, and then shelved, those new building plans because they felt threatened by Albertsons! I guess it's a good thing that those plans finally came to fruition, but I much prefer the old Publix based on the exterior pictures you were able to dig up. I also agree with you concerning Goodwill stores that sell new merchandise -- that's just strange! The Jackson stores seem to have a fair bit of that, and I've even seen enough of the same, still-packaged socks at the Hernando Goodwill to make me think Memphis might be getting in on the action also. Not sure I like that...

    1. It sounds crazy, but it seems like that was very much the case here! It would have been nice if Publix carried the theming of the original store's facade to the new one, as old Florida-styled Publix stores pop up pretty frequently with the newer locations.

      Goodwill of SW Florida isn't the only operator I've seen starting to rely on new merchandise, so I'm not surprised other operators are jumping on the bandwagon too. That stinks the Jackson area stores seem to be following suit with that, as all that new stuff makes going to Goodwill much less fun.