Saturday, April 30, 2016

Albertsons Florida Remodel Updates - April 2016 - Part 2

     Yesterday AFB contributor Ross T. sent in some additional photos of the Largo Albertsons. These pictures were taken within a day or two of when the pictures you saw in the April 2016 Part 1 remodel post were taken, and show a few different perspectives of this store. So, let's take a quick look...

     Some badly faded Albertsons signage still remains on the exterior for the Pharmacy and Liquor stores. By the end of the remodel, this signage should be replaced. At least I hope it would be.

     And going in through that pharmacy entrance we see the remodeled pharmacy counter.

     Ross was pressed for time while he was in here taking these pictures, so please pardon the blurriness in some of these pictures. You can still make out some details in the blurry photos. I believe this is the view from first walking in the main entrance, which leads immediately into the produce department.

     The deli, now in the front right corner after relocating from an island between the grocery aisles and right side wall, which you can see part of off to the left side of this picture. Where the deli is now was originally home to produce cases.

     Looking toward the bakery and beer & wine, which is in the back corner (although some wine was placed next to the cheese display in the foreground of this picture). One of the Safeway Signature signs they have for the bakery here is advertising the "French bread baked in store daily". I don't know if Safeway also had this before the Albertsons acquisition, but Albertsons had a program where they would bake fresh loaves of their house French bread throughout the day, especially in the early evening when people came in for after work shopping. One of the staples of Albertsons' bakery (other than the famous cookies) was that French bread, which I was also a fan of. From the looks of it, the same French bread will be carried over into Safeway. 

     It looks like some bulk foods were added as well.

     These coolers are a part of the new organic department, which you can see a wider view of here. This aisle is the one that used to run along the back of the deli island, and housed the beer coolers. You can see the original configuration here.

     And finally, a look at the new Starbucks up front. It looks like Customer Service has been relocated to an island next to the registers from the front wall as well.

    Thanks again Ross for you continuous updates from the Largo store! As always, AFB will be here to continue covering these remodels as they near their completion.

So until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Albertsons Florida Remodel Updates - April 2016 - Part 1

     Somewhere behind all of that scaffolding lies the soon-to-be-former Largo Albertsons or soon-to-be-opening Largo Safeway, depending on how you look at it. Today, thanks to AFB contributor Dave M., we'll get to take another quick look around the Largo Albertsons for some updates on the progress of construction and what's changed since last time.

     According to Dave, interior work is complete here. The only remaining construction is the exterior work you see above. Other than new signage, I really don't know what they're doing out here, or what the finished product will look like. As for already finished product, let's start heading inside to see some of that...

     The new carts have arrived with the Safeway branding on them. In addition to new full sized carts, Safeway is also adding new mini-carts "reserved for our future [Safeway] shoppers", which you can see below:

     Now for some interior pictures:

     The more I see pictures of the new interior, the more I like it. My fears of it making the store seem too dark did not come true, and honestly the new look does wonders for modernizing these older stores. In the above picture is "The Citrus City Cafe", located near the front entrance (they probably could have picked a better color for "The Citrus City" part of the sign, as the white on white is hard to read). The one thing about this look that I really like is how overborad it goes with local touches. "The Citrus City" is an old nickname for the City of Largo, dating back to the late 1800's when the city of Largo was one of the largest citrus producers in the state. The nickname has somewhat faded into obscurity in these modern times, mostly because I don't think a single citrus grove exists in Largo anymore, much less anywhere else in Pinellas County for that matter (maybe I'm wrong about that though, but I don't know where there would be room for one anymore). The cafe also includes some old pictures from around town, and some sayings on the wall about friends and togetherness.

     I don't know if this area has an official name, but it looks like some kind of lounge/sitting area. This store is so big, they probably had more space than they knew what to do with it, with this being a result of this store's unusually large size. Over on the side wall is a community bulletin board and a map of Florida showing where Largo is, as well as a chalkboard community calendar.

     Some of the new signage and cases in the produce department.

     The rather sizable organic foods department. It's nice to see they didn't skimp in this area.

     And finally some new Safeway promotional signage, probably over by the bakery since it's advertising Key Lime Pie. 

     Thanks again Dave for sending in these pictures of the Largo Albertsons! In 29 days, Albertsons Florida will become Safeway Florida, a sad yet exciting event as one era ends and another begins. AFB will be here to inform you of any news or updates regarding the remodels and the transition into Safeway as the work begins to come to a close.

So until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Former Albertsons #4363 - Lake Mary, FL

Albertsons #4363
3765 Lake Emma Road, Lake Mary, FL - Lake Mary Centre

     Somewhere behind all of that new facade lies a structure that used to be home to an Albertsons. Although fairly unrecognizable now, the Lake Mary Albertsons first opened here in May 1987 as one of the original anchors to this shopping center, along with a Kmart and General Cinemas. This store was a fairly average Superstore Albertsons throughout its life, opening with the Blue and Gray Market interior, later to be remodeled to Blue and Green Awnings in the late 90's. This store did reasonably well, and because of that it was able to survive until June 9, 2012, closing in the last large wave of Albertsons Florida closures that narrowed their store count to four locations. When Albertsons announced this store's pending closure around April of 2012, it occurred just a few weeks after Kmart announced they were closing their store in this plaza as well. Things seemed pretty bad for this plaza during that time in early 2012. However, either the owners of this plaza were very ambitious to fill the large vacancies, or this plaza's nice location right off of I-4 in a pretty hot strip for retail was attractive, or a little bit of both, helped to fill both the former Albertsons and Kmart holes since that time. Not long after Albertsons closed, work began to renovate and divide their old store into new homes for The Fresh Market and Ross Dress for Less, both of which held their grand openings in early 2014. 

     Sorry about the glare in this photo. The early morning sun always does a good job at messing with my picture taking! Anyway, as you can probably tell, not much has been left behind from this store's days as Albertsons. Ross and The Fresh Market did a good job at starting over from scratch here, but we'll still take a quick look around the place since I'm here anyway.

     So let's start by taking a quick trip into The Fresh Market side of the building...

     The Fresh Market and Ross both moved their main entrances to be flush with the front of the building, which resulted in Albertsons' old vestibule area being completely removed in order for this to happen.

     The remodel here was a complete to-the-shell gutting and strip down of the building. Nothing remained from Albertsons inside either half of the store. This view is looking toward the back of The Fresh Market from the produce department, which is the department you first walk into when entering the store. Around here, and probably in other areas as well, The Fresh Market seems to like opening stores in areas that Whole Foods tends to ignore, yet could still support a high end organic market. Their store is basically a mini-Whole Foods. This was my first time in a Fresh Market, and it was a nice store overall, but definitely on the pricey side. 

     Bulk foods, looking toward the cheese shop.

     Looking across the back of the store, where the meats/seafood, deli, bakery, and prepared foods service departments are located.

     The Fresh Market's selection of dry groceries was limited to three small aisles over on the left side of the store.

     Another one of the grocery aisles.

     This space in the front left corner of the building, previously home to Albertsons' pharmacy, is now The Fresh Market's wine department.

     Back outside we go to take a quick look at the Ross Dress for Less portion of the store. The area you see here was previously home to Albertsons' Customer Service desk before the front vestibule was ripped out during the renovation.

     Nothing special in the Ross portion of the building either. This is looking down the right side wall of the store, where Albertsons' deli and bakery were located, looking toward produce.

     Let's leave Ross to take a look at the only preserved part of the old Albertsons... 

     ...And that's the the former liquor store. Like usual, the liquor store was the only piece of the former Albertsons to remain untouched after the major renovations began on the main store, and it is still sporting Albertsons' original architecture. 

     As relatively untouched at this place was from the outside, I wonder if they touched the inside, considering it looks like the doors into the liquor store replaced at some time. I'm not sure if that was done by Albertsons or during the remodel of this space into The Fresh Market and Ross. Of course, out of all the empty tables outside of The Fresh Market at the time, the only table where someone was sitting just had to be the one that bumped right up to the old liquor store! Because of that I didn't venture over to the door to take a peek inside. I didn't feel like making up a story and having to strike up conversation about why I was taking pictures inside of the place when that topic would have most likely come up. And that man sat there the entire time I was here. Anyway, to make up for no pictures of the interior of the old liquor store, I have something else for everyone instead:

Albertsons Store Closings

     How about some pictures of the Albertsons itself? The above picture and the two below are courtesy of Werth Media's flickr account. Werth Media was the company that conducted the fixtures auction at this Albertsons, and a few others that closed in the 2012 closing wave. These pictures were taken not long after this store closed for good in June 2012. I've included these three pictures in the post since they gave the best overview of this store, however you can view some more pictures of this store on Werth Media's flickr account by clicking here.

Albertsons Store Closings 

     Looking into the main store from the old vestibule. Blue and Green awnings in all of its glory. This is looking into the left side of the store, which is now home to The Fresh Market. Big difference, right? 

Albertsons Store Closings 

     The center portion of the store. The dividing wall between Ross and The Fresh Market runs right through the area where this picture was taken.

     While that covers just about everything for the former Albertsons, let's go ahead and take a quick look at the former Kmart as well while we're here as well:

Kmart #3642
3639 Lake Emma Road, Lake Mary, FL

     This Kmart opened in 1987 with the rest of the plaza. It was a pretty standard late 80's built Kmart, nothing all too special. Kmart announced they would be closing this store on March 16, 2012, only a few weeks before Albertsons announced they would close their store at the beginning of April. The Kmart was gone by the summer of 2012, and it continued to sit empty until 2014, when Academy Sports and Outdoors selected the leftmost 2/3rds of the former Kmart to be one of the four locations they selected as a part of their entrance into the Central Florida market. Academy completely removed all traces of Kmart from the portion of the building they took over, in a similar manner to what happened to this plaza's former Albertsons. Academy opened at this location on March 6, 2015. The rightmost third of the former Kmart is currently in the process of being transformed into a Hobby Lobby, which will be opening later in 2016. At the time I was here, that portion of the building still retained its original design from Kmart, as construction on the new Hobby Lobby had just begun. We will have a quick look at that shortly.

     The only original portion left of the former Kmart can be seen off in the background of the above picture. 

     The last of the original features from the old Kmart, being prepped to be stripped away for the new Hobby Lobby. Before Academy redid their portion of the building, the entire exterior of the Kmart used to look like this, with a matching entryway.

     One last look at Academy and this former Kmart before moving on to the satellite imagery.

     First, some Bird's Eye views courtesy of Bing Maps:

Front - All of the Bird's Eye images are of this building back when it was still an Albertsons.

Right Side


Left Side

Before moving on, just a quick look at the front of the old Kmart, which I included since it still showed the building as a Kmart.

     And finally some historic aerials, courtesy of Google Earth:

A current overview of the entirety of Lake Mary Centre. The former Albertsons is the white roofed building at the right center of the image, and the former Kmart is the white roofed building at the bottom of the image. Now let's zoom in on the former Albertsons:

Former Albertsons #4363 - 2015

Albertsons #4363 - 2010

Albertsons #4363 - 2002

Albertsons #4363 - 1994

     So that's a wrap for the former Lake Mary Albertsons. Not the most exciting former Albertsons in its current state, but this plaza was fortunate enough to be able to turn itself around after losing both of its anchors at the same time, and finding new use for those two large spaces so fast.

So until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger