Sunday, May 9, 2021

Former Albertsons #4379 - Orlando, FL (Rosemont)

Albertsons #4379
4300 Clarcona-Ocoee Road, Orlando, FL - Clarcona Crossings

     From the death of an Albertsons we find the River of Life. While that sounds like a deeply metaphorical opening line with some powerful symbolism behind it, where we compare and contrast an old supermarket building with the mysteries of life, it's nothing more than me making some silly word play with the name of the church that now operates out of this place. So if you read that line and were hoping you'd find some deep philosophical ponderings about life in today's post, you're out of luck. If you came here looking to see what's happened to another one of the many former Albertsons stores that once dotted the Floridian landscape, then you're in luck, as that's going to be the subject of today's post! (We can ponder life's mysteries another time...)

     Today's former Albertsons store opened in 1990 at the intersection of North Orange Blossom Trail and Clarcona-Ocoee Road, as part of a new shopping center called Clarcona Crossings. This little pocket of Northwestern Orlando, officially a part of the city's Rosemont neighborhood, boomed with development in the late 1980's as numerous corporations began to move their local headquarters to this part of town. With the move of the companies, more residents began looking for homes out this way to be close to their jobs. As you'd expect, with the construction of new homes came the subsequent construction of new retail. Following on the heels of a new Publix in a shopping center next door, Albertsons was the major anchor for the first phase of the new Clarcona Crossings shopping center. Phase 2 of the Clarcona Crossings development, which was to include the plaza's second anchor, was to begin in Spring 1991 and include 100,000 additional square feet of retail space (with most of that square footage dedicated to the second anchor). For reasons unknown, that second phase never materialized, and a large grassy pad now sits at the far western edge of Clarcona Crossings as a reminder of what never came to be (which we'll see later in the satellite imagery).

     Albertsons had a decent run here in Rosemont, with this store lasting until a small wave of store closures in late 2008. After Albertsons closed, the building sat vacant until 2012 (or there about), when River of Life Church remodeled the building to turn the former Albertsons store into their new home. While the church gutted and rebuilt the interior, the exterior (although a bit dressed up with some new stone veneer and detailing) is the same from the Albertsons days.

     Even with some new paint and decorative stone, it's still quite obvious this building used to be home to an Albertsons. As soon as you look at each side of the building, you'll notice the preserved Superstore-era entry vestibules were left completely in-tact.

     Albertsons' old liquor store was attached to the left side of the building. The church took over that space as well, and turned it into the Kid's Room (about as opposite as you can get from a liquor store!).

     The left side entryway, which would have led Albertsons' shoppers into the pharmacy side of the store, is now labeled as the church's welcome center. I feel the way the above photo was taken really pronounces all the old Albertsons features of the building, especially since both of the entryways are visible in this shot.

     The right side entryway, which would have led shoppers into Albertsons' fresh departments, is pictured here. From what I can tell, the "Welcome Center" entrance appears to be the church's main entryway, with this entrance being used as either a side door or emergency door only.

     Here's a close-up of the right side door. Albertsons' original lights are still visible under the overhang too, so the church's modifications to the exterior were all cosmetic in nature.

     I don't know why I took this random photo of the wall, but this post was rather short, so I decided to keep it instead of toss it.

     Here's one final close-up of the building's exterior, that Albertsons feel still going strong nearly 10 years after its conversion into a church.

     I visited this former Albertsons on a weekday morning, which isn't exactly prime time to find anyone hanging around at a church. As you can tell by the parking lot, the place was dead while I was here, which made for convenient photo taking. However, as I was pulling out of the parking lot after getting my last few photos, a pickup truck passed by me going the opposite direction. When I was about to pass that pickup truck, the driver stopped and rolled down his window, like he wanted to say something to me. Since I had just finished taking photos (in a not-very-secretive manner, to note, since the place appeared to be dead), I was convinced he was going to start asking me questions about what I was doing. I wasn't in any mood for a confrontation, so I just blazed by the guy and got back on the road. Maybe I was being a bit jumpy, but you never know if someone is going to get a little too offended that you're taking pictures of their building (as we've all heard the stories about that from others in this hobby!).

     Since the church is only active at certain times during the week, that makes the plaza seem more dead than it really is. From what I remember, much of the plaza to the right of the old Albertsons was empty, with most of the plaza's remaining tenants located in the strip of stores to the left of the Albertsons building.

     While I'm over here, here's a quick look at the strip of stores branching out from the left side of the old Albertsons building.

     Dollar General was the primary draw to the center during my visit, as it was one of the only businesses that had opened for the day when I was here.

    As we leave, here's a look of all that remains from Clarcona Crossings Phase 2: a large grassy field. Looking at the satellite imagery (which we'll see in a moment), it looks like Phase 2 was supposed to include the addition of a big-box discounter. The lot is the perfect size for an early 90's Kmart, non-super Walmart, or Target, and at the time, none of those chains had a presence in this part of town. I'm sure the developer was going after one of them to build a store here, and either none of them took the bait, or the deal fell through. I've gone through the county records and never could confirm what was supposed to go here, so the Phase 2 plans must not have made it very far into the actual development stage.

     This little monument sign is what greets you now as you drive by the plaza on Clarcona-Ocoee Road, however, the was a time when you would have seen this instead:

     It would have been a more interesting sight had the photo been taken before Albertsons closed, but at least we get to see the entire sign in original form.

     And thanks to Orange County's stockpile of old property assessor photos, here's a quick glimpse at what this place looked like when Albertsons was still here. Just remove the stone veneer and curved trim, and you have yourselves an Albertsons.

     However, to top that exterior photo, I was actually able to find an interior photo of this store, though from shortly after Albertsons closed in late 2008. I downloaded this photo a long time ago from some random website that probably doesn't exist anymore. While the photo isn't of the highest resolution, you can still see this store closed with the Grocery Palace decor, meaning Albertsons took the time to remodel this place at least once during its 18 year run.

     While that was a nice little trip back in time, we've now moved on to the satellite imagery part of today post. As usual, first we have some Bird's Eye aerial images of the store, courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side


Left Side

     And now some historic satellite images, courtesy of Google Earth and

Former Albertsons #4379 - 2021 - In this image, you can see the giant hole in Clarcona Crossings where the mysterious Phase 2 was to go. The property was cleared and graded for the new building and its parking lot, all of which never happened. Immediately to the right of the Albertsons plaza is the old Publix plaza. Publix opened a few years before Albertsons, and is one of the rare instances of a Publix that closed outright in the late 2000's. The Publix building is currently split between dd's Discounts and Save A Lot.

Former Albertsons #4379 - 2014

Former Albertsons #4379 - 2009

Albertsons #4379 - 2002

Albertsons #4379 - 1995

Future Albertsons #4379 - 1980 - While there wasn't much out this way back in 1980, we do have a nice look at the old Ri Mar Drive-In theater, which closed in 1996 and has since been redeveloped into a home for some new buildings.

     Now that we've finished our tour of the former Rosemont Albertsons, that also marks a momentous occasion for the blog. Posting these photos of Albertsons #4379 means that I now have coverage of every Albertsons store in the greater Orlando area posted in some form - the first major metropolitan area in Florida I can say that for! I've actually had these photos of store #4379 sitting around for a long time, but me being me, just got to them now. Better late than never I suppose!

     Anyway, that's all I have to say about this store. We'll be staying in the Orlando area for our next post, which will be an update of sorts for something we're already seen before. The next post will be an interesting before and after tour, so be sure to come back in two weeks for that!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. Publix #286, Rosemont Plaza, 5800 North Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32810-1025, opened on Thursday, 29 August 1985. It was open through 2008, and closed before 2011.

    Publix has been in rumors and conversations for a new store in the Packing District, South Orange Blossom Trail at Princeton Street.

    1. That store (#286) closed with Wavy Pastel according to a Flickr photo which is just around the stores closing time

    2. Thanks for the information - based on the flickr photo Unknown linked to, store #286 closed in 2009. It would be nice to see the Packing District store come to fruition, as it would bring Publix back to this area.

  2. Interesting little supermarket-church conversion, I kinda feel like the next post relates to Publix. Speaking of them, It's crazy that Rosemont closed outright like Skyview and Chickasaw Trails, usually Florida stores get replacements and that store was like almost all of the Georgia stores which closed outright just like Rosemont. Also, I have a feeling that Suncrest may close outright too, maybe Publix's Orlando director must be treating them harsh XD

    1. Also as you live in the Brevard area, Rockledge Square Publix will close for a remodel sooner or later so make sure you take photos of that store and compare them with your other photo set if you have photos

    2. Suncrest village Publix #332 is closing later this year to be rebuilt as a larger store on site, taking over the former dry cleaner spot next door.

    3. It's actually closing next month (06/05/21).
      To AFB: As you are in Orlando, can you try to go to Publix at Suncrest Village cause this store is closing for a rebuild next month and you may get the chance to see it in person.

    4. It’s pretty rare for a Publix to close outright, but it does happen from time to time. The demographics of Rosemont and Skyview changed over the years, and Chickasaw Trail was cannibalized by the other Publix stores that popped up around it, which I believe are the reasons for the outright closures of those stores. I have photos of the Rockledge Square and Suncrest Village stores that are up for replacement soon – I just haven’t posted them yet.

  3. This is an interesting look at a St. Albertsons. I find it rather odd that a place called River of Life would paint those arched walls grey like that. They kind of look like tombstones! While I suppose it might have been kind of the church to honor the dead Albertsons that way, I'm guessing that wasn't their intention!

    Wouldn't it be interesting if a church moved into an old Grocery Palace Albertsons and left the decor intact? Ok, it seems unlikely this would ever happen, but it is interesting to think about. Maybe I'm the only one who thinks that would be interesting, lol.

    I don't believe we have a St. Albertsons in Houston, but a couple of the closest Albertsons to be were turned into things that churches are often used for. One Albertsons, which had a pretty bad location in terms of traffic and so conversion into another supermarket was highly unlikely, was turned into a pretty upscale wedding/banquet hall.

    Another Albertsons close to me is now a bingo hall. Actually, upon further review, it seems that there is a church operating out of a small sub-divided part of the Albertsons next to the bingo hall. I suppose we do have a St. Albertsons after all, but I would consider this to be a minor saint.

    Houston does have a pretty major non-church to church conversion, but it's not retail related. We used to have a basketball arena that the Rockets played at called The Summit/Compaq Center. After the Rockets moved to a new arena, Lakewood Church was allowed to move into the entirety of The Summit. Yes, this is a church in a 16,000+ seat arena!

    The Summit/Lakewood Church does have an Orlando connection though. Games 3 & 4 of the 1995 NBA Finals between the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets were played at The Summit in Houston's sweep of the Magic to win the 1995 championship. Some Orlando area readers of your blog probably won't want to be reminded of that, lol. When the Magic came out to be introduced before game 3, The Summit PA announcer famously started playing 'It's a Small World' in order to try to intimidate the Magic. That's always a risky move, but since the Rockets won, I suppose we can say it worked. Such humor was unusual at the time and you can hear the TV announcers having a good laugh at the situation.

    And, yes, Target did have prominent ads at The Summit. I assume those are no longer there, but who knows. Target ads at a church would probably be less unusual than Grocery Palace decor at a church, don't you think?!

    1. St. Albertsons – I like that name! If I remember right, there are three St. Albertsons stores in Florida – this one, one in Tampa, and another in Estero. Hopefully the church wasn’t going for a tombstone look, as I’m sure they wanted a livelier way to portray themselves! That would be really funky if a church moved into an old supermarket building and left everything in-tact. Like you said, it would be highly unlikely to ever see that happen, unless it was some kind of temporary arrangement. However, leaving everything in-tact from the supermarket days would probably get me to go to church more often! With all those crash-and-burn Albertsons stores in Houston (some of which were built in odd places), I’m quite surprised church conversions weren’t more common. I guess that one you found counts, but it sure isn’t as dramatic of a conversion as when the entire building become a church.

      As for the church in the arena, that sure makes for one big church! I wonder if there is a large enough congregation to fill up all of those 16,000 seats on a constant basis. In Florida, there’s a church in Lakeland that bought an entire mall, converting it into the (fittingly named) “Church at the Mall”. However, the church itself only takes up a small portion of the mall building, with the church using the rest of the mall space for other services they provide. Still a wildly large space for a church to take over! It seems like Orlando doesn’t have the best association with that arena, but at least for the next tournament, I can go to the Summit and pray for them!

    2. The St. Albertsons name is something based on a a famous retail situation in Texas. In San Antonio, Joske's Department Store (later Dillard's) was building a large location in downtown San Antonio, but there was a church that had a corner of their property. I think they tried to get the land from the church, but that didn't happen and so they just built the store around the church. Since the church was surrounded by Joske's on three sides, people started referring to the church as St. Joske's. You can see the situation here:

      I suppose the situations with these Albertsons-to-church conversions is a bit different, but I still think the St. Albertsons title works! Although some of Houston's Albertsons were converted to strange things, including a DMV office, I don't think any were converted to churches except for that small subdivided one next to the bingo hall. I am aware of one former Skaggs-Albertsons in the Dallas suburb of Cedar Hill that was turned into a church which you can see here:

      Here's the grand opening newspaper ad for that store from 1971 via the Texas History Portal. This is the first of several pages of the ad, you can use the arrow on the link to see the rest:

      As you can see, that church looks almost exactly what the Skaggs-Albertsons would have looked like when it was new. I actually prefer that conversion than the Orlando one. The Cedar Hill one does not have any tombstone looking things!

      The Lakewood Church here in Houston that operates out of The Summit is one of those megachurches that is on TV and all of that. They're a pretty big deal here and it seems that they usually do fill the seats. It's pretty hard to believe a church can be that big, but that is the case!

      I'm sure that when Orlando got a basketball team right around the same time Miami did, the Orlando people were hoping that they'd become famous for something other than Disney and the other theme parks. Unfortunately, it seems even the Magic can't shake the shadow of Disney as other teams poke fun of them using Disney jokes! It also seemed early on that Orlando was going to be a lot more successful than the Miami Heat team, but the fortunes for the two teams took very different directions after 1995 and Miami became the dominant team.

      I've heard of that mall in Lakeland and I think I've seen pictures of it if I'm remembering correctly. I don't know of any mall churches here, but a church did buy the long-abandoned Dillard's anchor building at the Mall of the Mainland in Texas City (the infamous mall with the painted up storefronts) and turned it into their church. Unfortunately, that Dillard's was never a Joske's so we can't call it St. Joske's 2, lol.

  4. That's amazing they even added the large floor leaf logo in a "superstore" model. I've never seen this done before, but it appears that possibilities are endless.

    I'm now confused by when they began remodeling to Industrial Circus, B&G Awnings, and Grocery Palace. I had discovered a couple of years ago that Butler Plaza West remodeled to Industrial Circus, but since this one opened in 1990 and they like to remodel every ten years, a 2000 remodel to Grocery Palace makes sense for this store.

    1. Albertsons did a decent amount of work to this store in the remodel. It would be nice if some more photos of the interior ever turned up to see what else they may have done to the interior. Grocery Palace, Industrial Circus, and Blue and Green Awnings all seem to have muddled together in the early 2000’s, with some of those appearing to run concurrently. Grocery Palace seems to have been most common in the 1999-2001 timeframe, with Industrial Circus rolling out a little later. I don’t think any Floridian Albertsons stores opened with Industrial Circus – I think only remodels happened with that décor.

  5. Congrats on completing your coverage of all the greater Orlando area Albertsons stores! One metro area down, and now onto the next ones :)

    1. Thanks! I just have to keep chipping away at this project, one city at a time!

  6. There is an Albertsons “Superstore” in Chino Hills, CA (Grand Ave) built around 1990. This store has a similar history to 4379: it was remodeled with Grocery Palace around 2000 or so. Albertsons remodeled it with Colorful Lifestyle 2 years ago.

    1. That’s interesting to hear. It’s strange seeing the Colorful Lifestyle décor in an Albertsons though. I thought only the Safeway branded stores were getting that décor, with the Albertsons side using a different package. Still though, I like Colorful Lifestyle, and it does look nice in an Albertsons building from that era.

  7. It isn't the first Albertsons that became a church. In Tampa, Grace Family Church (I believe) took over an Albertsons. An old Winn Dixie in the New Tampa area became a church. I heard about the mall church... And here in Tampa, there is a church in an old Chevy dealership.

    Like your statement about the Liquor store becoming a Kids Center... 😀

  8. My husband and I met working at this Albertsons in 1995.