Sunday, April 16, 2017

Former Albertsons #4303 - Winter Park, FL

Albertsons #4303
483 N. Semoran Boulevard, Winter Park, FL - Albertsons Plaza (Now The Medical Village at Winter Park)

     Last May, I featured the former downtown Winter Park Albertsons (Store #4390) on the blog. That store was the newer Albertsons in town, a 1999 built Grocery Palace store that eventually became home to a Publix (who completely overhauled the building in 2014). However, that was not the only Albertsons to exist in Winter Park. In fact, Winter Park had two other Albertsons stores at one point, both located in the suburban eastern part of town on Semoran Boulevard. However, neither of the Semoran Boulevard Albertsons stores co-existed with each other. The newer store (#4423), which will be the subject of the blog's next feature post, was a replacement for the store we'll be taking a look at today. Today's post will focus on former Albertsons #4303, which was part of the first batch of Albertsons stores to open in Florida in late 1974. This store was one of the first two Albertsons stores in the Orlando area (the other being #4304 in Altamonte Springs), built at the very busy corner of Semoran Boulevard and Aloma Avenue in Winter Park. While it seems like this Albertsons has mostly faded into obscurity, I believe this store did a good amount of business back in the day. In 1994, Albertsons decided to relocate this store three quarters of a mile to the south to a recently vacated Xtra Super Food Center, which was a much larger building in the relatively new Univerity Park Plaza power center (more on all of that next post). After Albertsons moved, Store #4303 sat vacant until 2006, the year when the Albertsons building and was converted into The Medical Village at Winter Park, which as the name suggests, is a large complex of various medical and doctor offices. The conversion of this building into a medical complex essentially wiped away all traces of Albertsons. While the building is the original Albertsons building, there isn't a whole lot left to see here.

     This is an overview of what the building looks like now. From the ground, you'd never think an Albertsons was located here. The facade and right side of the building were completely redone in the 2006 conversion. From the air it's a bit more obvious looking that this was once a retail structure, and you can see the shape of the old Skaggs Model Albertsons store.

     Looking across the front of the building from the front right corner. The main entrance into the medical complex is under that canopy in the distance, which is the approximate location of Albertsons' left side main entrance into the store. The right side entrance would have been in the area where the white columns are now. I'm not sure which corner of the building the liquor store was tucked into, but I'm thinking it was the front left corner based on the way the site is configured and from the historic aerial images. I think this store was a essentially a mirror image of this one when Albertsons was here.

     A better view of the front right corner of the building, as well as small look at the right side of the building. On this side of the building, the medical complex added on another drive through canopy to access a side entrance. A small addition was also built toward the back right corner of this building a year or so ago (not visible in the photo, although I don't think construction on that even began when I took these pictures).

     Moving around to the front left portion of the building, where the main entrance into the complex currently is. While most of the building is now small medical offices, an emergency clinic takes up a good chunk of the front left portion of the building.

     And here's one final photo of former Albertsons #4303, looking across the front once again. I believe the old liquor store would have been located just out of frame to the left, tucked into the corner of the building facing the former Handy City hardware store space (which I will talk more about shortly).

     I didn't take too many photos of this former Albertsons as there want a whole lot to see here anymore. I didn't get a photo of the Handy City space either, but like the Albertsons, that isn't very exciting anymore either. The old Handy City is not recognizable as a former store anymore, and the majority of that space is now a beauty school (the remaining space is occupied by a few small restaurant and office storefronts). I think the aerial images here are much more exciting than what you can see here now in person, so let's continue on and take a look at some Bird's Eye aerial images, courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side

Back - The medical complex did keep Albertsons' old loading dock in the bottom left corner of the image. It also looks like a large second floor was added in the building during the conversion as well. I think these stores had second floor offices near the back, but I don't think the second floor was as large in the Albertsons days as those windows suggest it is now.

Left Side

     Now for some historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth and

Former Albertsons #4303 - 2016 - Albertsons built one really big parking lot for this store! Since this store didn't have any space for a parking lot on the side of the building like most older Albertsons stores had, it gives the illusion of a big parking lot. The Albertsons is the large building at the bottom of the image (with the 5 tan squares on it). Handy City was the rectangular building coming out from the top of the Albertsons. Handy City was a hardware store chain located in the Southeastern United States, part of the W.R. Grace Home Center umbrella that also included Handy Dan, Channel Hardware, and Orchard Supply (to name a few). Handy City closed this store in 1986 amidst pressure from other large hardware stores in the area at the time. From my research, it looks like the Handy City building was a furniture store for a while after Handy City closed, although by the early 2000's that closed too.

Former Albertsons #4303 - 2007

Former Albertsons #4303 - 2006 - Conversion into The Medical Village at Winter Park in progress in this satellite capture.

Former Albertsons #4303 - 2004 - Now we get to the good stuff! Here's the in-tact abandoned Albertsons before the medical offices moved in.

Former Albertsons #4303 - 2002

Albertsons #4303 - 1994 - Albertsons is still open in this image, although the move down the road would occur shortly after this image was captured.

Albertsons #4303 - 1980 - A crowded Albertsons and Handy City back in 1980.

Future Albertsons #4303 - 1969 - And nothing but a gas station on this corner in 1969.

     So that's about all there is to cover for former Albertsons #4303. The map above shows the location of store #4303 (far left) in relation to its replacement, store #4423 (far right) where we'll be heading for the next feature post. That complex where Albertsons relocated to in 1994 has an interesting backstory to it, which I'll explain in much more detail next time (which will actually be three weeks from now - May 7th - due to the way the calendar falls) where we will conclude our story of the East Winter Park Albertsons stores.

So until then,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Former Albertsons #4415 - Ocoee, FL

Albertsons #4415/Super Saver #1532
1560 East Silver Star Road, Ocoee, FL - Albertsons Plaza

     Over the last few years, LA Fitness has been expanding throughout Florida by taking over former grocery stores and other empty retail spaces (in addition to building some locations from the ground up). Recently, every former retail building LA Fitness has taken over for a new gym becomes unrecognizable from the exterior as their remodels have become more thorough (for example, like what happened to former Albertsons #4429 in Melbourne). When LA Fitness takes over a former retail building now, it usually has its original exterior torn off for the standard modern LA Fitness exterior you can see in that link. However, that wasn't always the case. Up until the late 2000's or so, LA Fitness would leave the exteriors of the buildings they took over completely intact, which thankfully was the case for this former Albertsons. As you can see, this place still looks a lot like a former Albertsons store. Albertsons opened at this location in 1993 as the first grocery store at the corner of Silver Star and Clarke Roads in Ocoee, a western suburb of Orlando. With a 1993 opening date, this would be considered one of the very first Albertsons stores to get the arch front design, the design typically associated more with the late 90's and early 2000's built stores. Typically, these early 90's stores had blockier exteriors, more along the lines of this style. While the exterior of this store was ahead of its time, the interior wasn't. This store opened with the usual early 90's Blue and Gray Market interior and store layout, probably looking much like this inside for its entire run as Albertsons. This store lasted as an Albertsons from 1993 until 2005, when it was selected as one of the 11 "underperforming" Albertsons Florida stores to be converted to the new Super Saver format. As you may know, Super Saver was hardly given a chance to prove itself when Cerberus all but killed off the new discount supermarket concept in 2006 when they took over control of their portion of Albertsons (which included all of the Super Saver stores at the time). In 2006, the Super Saver located here closed, ending this building's life as a grocery store. In 2008, LA Fitness took over this building for a new gym. While LA Fitness stripped out all of the original interior from the main store, they at least spared the exterior of this building. Had LA Fitness come along two or three years after that instead, the entire exterior would have been wiped away as a part of their conversion. With the exterior in-tact, it also makes this post much more interesting that we at least have something left over from Albertsons to look at!

     After this store opened in 1993, no other stores in Florida used the arched exterior design again until 1997, when it became the standard design for new stores throughout the company. After the Superstore era ended around the time this store was built, Albertsons must have begun experimenting with exterior designs to find one they liked. 1993 also brought us the one and only Circle Model store, which looks like no other store Albertsons ever built in Florida. Even though this wasn't the design ultimately chosen for the early 90's stores, someone must have liked this look enough to come back to it a few years later.

     The right side of the Albertsons building. Those windows were added by LA Fitness.

     On the left side of the building we find the former liquor store.

     As usual, the liquor store at this former Albertsons is still sitting abandoned, and has been ever since Super Saver closed in 2006. I don't understand why these former Albertsons liquor stores are so difficult to re-tenant, but I'm not going to complain. These former liquor stores are usually the only glimpse we have to see what these former Albertsons stores looked like when they were open.

     Ready for a peek inside the old liquor store?

     Blue and Gray Market floor tiles! In addition to the flooring, the ceiling and lights are also original to Albertsons. Unfortunately, all of the traces of Blue and Gray Market decor on the walls were removed at some point in order to install new drywall in this space. 

     Here's an overview of the former Albertsons building, as seen from the small strip plaza that juts off to the right of the building.

     Looking toward the entrance of the former Albertsons from the front walkway.

     This is a look down the walkway that contains the small strip of stores. I believe there were 6 or so small storefronts in this little strip, which connects the former Albertsons space to a CVS Pharmacy. Speaking of that CVS...

Eckerd #3087/CVS #4238
1612 E. Silver Star Road, Ocoee, FL - Albertsons Plaza

     This pharmacy originally opened as an Eckerd in 1993 with the rest of the plaza. Eckerd was Florida's longtime drugstore chain. Although founded in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1898, Eckerd moved their headquarters to Clearwater, FL in the 1930's (I believe), and gradually became the largest drugstore chain in Florida for a while (and 4th largest in the US at their peak). In 2004, all of Eckerd's Florida locations were all sold to CVS. There really isn't anything special about this Eckerd/CVS - I just had a few extra minutes after I finished photographing the former Albertsons and decided to pop over here. Strip mall pharmacies are becoming increasingly rare in suburban Florida, although there are still a few of these strip mall Eckerd/CVS stores still out there, especially in the Orlando area (as well as in other parts of the state). Finding a still operating strip mall Walgreens, however, is a much more difficult challenge these days than finding an operating strip mall Eckerd/CVS! I'm not sure if the Albertsons had a pharmacy or not due to the presence of the Eckerd in the same strip. It was pretty rare to have an Albertsons in the same strip as another drugstore in Florida, although it would also be rare for an Albertsons to not have an in-store pharmacy in Florida, so I don't know exactly how that situation was worked out here.

     A look down the front of the CVS, showing the line of windows that lets quite a bit of sunlight into the store.

     Why not pop inside for a quick look around since we're down this way anyway?

     I guess you can say one of the slightly unique traits of this CVS is its orientation. Unlike most drugstores (whether in a strip plaza or freestanding), this store is wider than it is deep. Due to that, the aisles are oriented parallel to the front wall rather than perpendicular to it. The main entrance is directly in front of me, with the registers to my right and the aisles to my left.

     In total, this store is 8 aisles deep. This photo is looking from the left side of the building toward the right side due to the unusual orientation of the store. The lighting in here is original to Eckerd, and based on how rough the carpeting looks, I'd say it's a safe guess to say that was left over from Eckerd too. CVS didn't do a lot to the Eckerd stores they took over, as the conversions happened rather fast. The main thing CVS did during the conversions was switch out Eckerd's decor for theirs.

     The pharmacy counter takes up the entire right side wall of the store. Since this store is at the edge of the plaza, it is possible to install a pharmacy drive-thru here (and there is room too). However, one was never installed here.

     One last interior photo from the CVS before heading back outside...

     And here's an overview of the entire plaza. There were few enough cars in the lot this particular morning and the plaza was small enough for this photo to turn out rather well.

     Now time for some satellite images, starting with some Bird's Eye images courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side


Left Side

     Before moving on to historic aerials, I wanted to talk briefly about the other grocery competitors that joined Albertsons at the corner of Silver Star and Clarke over the years. As I mentioned earlier, Albertsons was the first to build on this corner in 1993. Two years later in 1995, Winn-Dixie built a store across the street as the anchor to the Lake Olympia Shopping Center. Last to join the party was Publix, who opened their store on this corner in 2001. For 4 years, all three of Florida's big 3 supermarkets competed against each other on the same corner, one of the only examples of this I can think of (at least where all three stores actually co-existed with each other for a while). If only Kash n' Karry put a store on the empty lot at the southeastern corner of this intersection, that really would have been something! Out of these three stores, guess who's the only one left open...

     ...and of course, the answer is Publix! (I wish I could have shocked everyone and said it was the Winn-Dixie). This is Publix #761, a rather large looking Publix that opened in 2001. I believe this store was a replacement for Publix #318 a little further east of here at Silver Star and Hiawassee, a building which is now home to a Roses store.

     Lastly, we have the Winn-Dixie. This was Winn-Dixie #2250, which opened in 1995. I believe this store replaced Winn-Dixie #2292, which was located just east of here at Hiawassee and Silver Star, the same corner Publix would later move from. While this store looks similar in design to the early 2000's built Winn-Dixies, it was a typical 90's Marketplace store inside for its entire 20 years in business. Winn-Dixie silently closed this store in Summer 2015, and the building is still vacant. My trip out this way was a bit unplanned, so I didn't realize this Winn-Dixie had closed at the time, otherwise I would have got a few pictures of my own of the place.

    Interestingly enough, Google Street View captured imagery of this plaza while Winn-Dixie was in the middle of their store closing sale. I thought it was interesting enough to include a screenshot of it with this post.

     So with that little bonus out of the way, let's push ahead with some historic satellite imagery of the former Ocoee Albertsons courtesy of Google Earth:

Former Albertsons #4415 - 2016

Former Albertsons #4415 - 2006 - Looks like Super Save had just closed when this image was taken.

Albertsons #4415 - 2002 - Albertsons was going head to head with Publix and Winn-Dixie when this image was taken.

Albertsons #4415 - 1995 - The crowds look a bit better back when Albertsons was still the only one on this corner!

Future Albertsons #4415 - 1990 - Nothing but an orange grove here.

     Once again, thanks to Orange County's lack of updating photos on their property records, we find a interesting treat here - a photo if an operational Albertsons Super Saver! I'm pretty sure this is a first time a photo of an operational Super Saver has found its way to the blog. This photo was taken May 1, 2006, just a few months before the plug was pulled on Super Saver in August 2006. In case you ever wanted to know what one looked like, here you go. Some stores did get the Super Saver shopping cart logo on the front though, which this one didn't.

     And finally, a photo of the Super Saver liquor store. I'm surprised Albertsons continued to operate these liquor stores after the Super Saver conversion, but they did.

     So that's it for former Albertsons #4415. Not really a whole lot to see here from Albertsons anymore, but at least this time, LA Fitness left us some kind of glimpse into the past.

Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger