|***Photos of the building still standing are courtesy of YonWooRetail2. Everything else was taken by AFB.***|
Albertsons #4354 / Planned Lucky's Market #69
7415 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL - Manatee West Shopping Center
I wish I could give today's post a happy ending, but as of mid-2021, that's something I'm not able to do. Unfortunately, the site of former Albertsons #4354 is one that got tangled up in the many woes of Floridian supermarkets, where the dead carcass of one former Floridian supermarket chain gave way for an empty plot of land that was supposed to become home to yet another former Floridian supermarket chain. While the redevelopment would have been great had it gone as planned, it couldn't have begun at a worse time. We'll talk more about the botched redevelopment of Albertsons #4354 later in today's post, but first, we need to talk a little about the Albertsons store that once stood at this site:
Opened on December 8, 1982, store #4354 became the second Albertsons location to open in the city of Bradenton, following the opening of a store near DeSoto Square Mall on the other side of town in 1975. Store #4354 had a very healthy run of nearly 30 years, lasting all the way until June 9, 2012. Albertsons must have done quite well in the Bradenton/Sarasota area, as the area had three locations that lasted until the mid-2012 closing wave (this one, #4465 in Sarasota, and #4346 in Venice). While store #4354 had its last major remodel in the 2003-2004 timeframe, it retained most of its original look and interior layout for its entire run.
While this former Albertsons store is located on a busy intersection near the gateway to Anna Maria Island and its famous beaches, it ended up sitting empty for 7 years without any formal plans for a new tenant or redevelopment. While the building sat vacant, it was used for a while as temporary storage for a furniture store. However, in 2019, some formal plans for this former Albertsons site finally came to light, with the long abandoned supermarket building to become home to a new Lucky's Market. In 2019, it looked like there was nothing stopping Lucky's, a company in the midst of a Floridian expansion blitz thanks to the financial support of Kroger and a huge growing fanbase. Lucky's would have been a really nice fit for this site, which serves the nearby neighborhoods and the communities across the bridge on Anna Maria Island. To make way for the new Lucky's Market, the old Albertsons building was to be demolished rather than reused, with Lucky's building from scratch where the Albertsons building once stood. Demolition of the old Albertsons began in December 2019, right around the same time things began to turn sour for Lucky's. Just as demolition of the old Albertsons began, it was announced that Kroger was pulling out on its 55% stake in Lucky's Market, leading Lucky's to fend for themselves without the financial support from Kroger - a line of support Lucky's became too reliant on. Without Kroger's money, Lucky's was crippled, and could no longer afford the grand expansion the company had embarked on. Come late January 2020, Lucky's announced they would declare bankruptcy, and close nearly all of their stores, effectively canceling the construction of all planned stores in the process. That announcement meant Bradenton wasn't getting a Lucky's, and the old Albertsons building was demolished for nothing more than an empty patch of grass.
In the ensuing Lucky's bankruptcy mess, the owners of the Bradenton Albertsons property decided to sue Kroger for damages related to breaking their lease and pulling out on the plans of opening a Lucky's Market store at the site. In order to quickly end the legal drama, Kroger came to an agreement with the property owners to buy the old Bradenton Albertsons site in January 2021 for $5.15 million. Kroger's purchase of the Albertsons property led to a lot of misleading buzz that Kroger was plotting to open stores in Florida, when that wasn't actually the case. Kroger bought the Bradenton property as a way to put an end to a legal battle the company didn't want to deal with, and nothing more. So in the end, we now have a Kroger-owned patch of grass where Albertsons #4354 once stood. Exciting, right? Kroger-owned land in Florida. Yeah...no matter what I do, I can't really make an empty lot sound more exciting than what it is, so before we get to that, we'll take a little time to explore the building that once stood at this site, thanks to the retail adventures of YonWooRetail2:
YonWoo visited former Albertsons #4354 in 2017, 5 years after Albertsons had closed. Even with Albertsons being gone for that long, the building was still kept up with the power still on. Besides some sun wear and dirt, the place was still solid, and it was a bit of a waste the entire building would eventually be torn down for nothing.
OPEN...well, not quite. The "OPEN" graphics with the store hours underneath was a classic Albertsons trait that dated back to the 90's at least, stenciled onto one of the store's front windows.
These early/mid-1980's Albertsons stores were designed with dual entryways, the doors to each angled out like this under a trapezoid-shaped projection from the front of the building, hence the name "Trapezoid Model" for stores from this era. Pictured here is the right side entrance, which opened into the pharmacy side of the store (I believe the pharmacy was on the right side of this building, based on the interior pictures we'll see in a moment).
To juxtapose the large "OPEN" sign on the other side of the windows, we find the much more fitting "CLOSED" sign taped to the window by the doors.
The right side entryway was still covered with lots of Albertsons signage and decals, such as the liquor store ads above the doors, as well as the entrance and exit signs.
While glass on the doors was papered over, whoever installed the paper wasn't tall enough to cover the top windows. Whether leaving the upper windows uncovered was intentional or not, it worked in YonWoo's advantage for some interior shots:
Our first glimpse inside, we see some boxes, but if we pan a little more to the right...
…some glimpses of the interior as well as some decor remnants come into view.
Here's a nice overview of the far right side of the old Albertsons store. From what I can tell, I believe the pharmacy was located near the right edge of this image, with the fresh departments located on the other side of the building. From this photo, it's also quite clear this store used the Industrial Circus decor prior to closure. The Industrial Circus decor was a product of the 2003-2004 era remodel, that decor commonly used in these older Albertsons stores which were refreshed around that time.
Much to YonWoo's surprise during this visit, the old Albertsons was actually being used by a furniture store (or some kind of furniture related business) as storage, as the entire interior was stockpiled with boxes, mattresses, rugs, and stacks of chairs. Even with all the stuff in here, he was still able to get some good overviews of the store's interior.
The interior photos will progress from the right side of the store toward the left, this photo still showing the right side of the building.
I'm not sure if the meat and seafood counter was located under the green painted wall in the back right corner, or underneath the brown rectangle visible in the center of the above image.
While it looks like no one was around, much to YonWoo's surprise, there was actually a person moving stuff around in here while he was taking photos. Two photos up, you can see the front of a forklift on the left side of the image. That forklift wasn't parked - it was actually in motion when that picture was being taken! (And you can see the forklift cruising by in this video YonWoo took as well). Thankfully the person on the forklift didn't seem to notice YonWoo taking photos through the windows, or that situation could have ended awkwardly!
Here's one final look inside the former Albertsons store, this time looking into the sales floor from the windows above the left side doors. Seeing it from this angle, this vantage point makes the building seem really big.
Now that we've seen the inside of the main store, let's take a quick stroll over to the former liquor store, which was tucked into the building's front right corner. Here's a look back toward the main store's entrance as seen from the front of the liquor store.
While dressed up a bit in the early 2000's remodel, the liquor store would have always been located in the corner like this.
Ready for a peek inside?...
Hopefully mattresses are a good substitute for decor remnants, as the piles of mattresses stored in the former liquor store take up most of the view! With the lights off, mattresses piled high, and the low ceiling of the liquor store, we'll only get to see some small bits and pieces of the old liquor store decor.
From the side window, it's a bit easier to make out what's on the walls above the piles of mattresses.
Here's one last peek into the old liquor store before we wrap up our look at the former Albertsons building while it was still standing.
A few nice overview shots of the exterior will wrap up YonWoo's coverage of former Albertsons #4354.
And an Albertsons labelscar for good measure.
Update 6/10/21 - Contributor Reviewer Jay has sent in a couple of photos of Albertsons #4354 while it was being demolished, which can be seen above and below.
One last river rock panel standing, but not for much longer...
Jumping ahead to early 2021, by the time AFB was able to make the journey to the Bradenton area, all he got to see was this: grass. Certainly not as exciting of a sight as what YonWoo got to document, but once upon a time, everything you just saw stood in that patch of grass.
By the time of Lucky's sudden demise, the construction crew was able to demolish the entire Albertsons building, reconfigure the parking lot, and prep the pad for where Lucky's building was to go. By the time it came to actually construct the building, Lucky's went bankrupt, and this is all Bradenton got in exchange.
While Kroger owns the property now, I have to guess keeping the property long term isn't the company's goal. I'd imagine Kroger wants to sell the property or lease the pad to someone else, as Kroger has no use for a random lot in Florida now that Lucky's is gone. Sprouts would be a really good fit for this site, as the pad is the prefect size for one of their stores, and Sprouts has been expanding in the greater Tampa Bay area recently. While Sprouts didn't buy any of Lucky's old stores initially in the bankruptcy, they have announced plans to open at two planned Lucky's sites in the months following, those being the upcoming Sprouts locations in Dania Beach and Delray Beach.
Since all that trouble was put into getting rid of the old Albertsons building, hopefully something, whether it be Sprouts, another grocery store, or just anything, can be found to open here.
The building in the background is the small strip center the Albertsons building once abutted.
Not that we're seeing anything spectacular here, but here's one final look at the grassy lot Albertsons once called home.
Speaking of that small strip center, here's a few photos of it. As part of the construction of the new Lucky's, the facade of the strip center was also remodeled, giving it the look you see here (which would have matched the Lucky's building that never made it off paper).
With the Albertsons building gone, the only relic left from those days gone by is this well-weathered and faded road sign facing Manatee Avenue West, which still has a very prominent Albertsons labelscar facing drivers to this day. Like the Albertsons building itself, once Kroger finds a suitor for this land, this sign will also become just a memory too, erasing the last little bit of Albertsons there was to see here in western Bradenton.
Since a grassy lot isn't the most exciting thing in the world to visit after driving all the way across the state, I decided to pop across the street to Beachway Plaza (labeled in the image above) for a quick look around, as there was something over there which caught my interest...
Officially making the jump across the street, here's a quick look at the road sign for Beachway Plaza, with the logos for Publix and Kmart prominently displayed at the top. As you'd expect, the Beachway Plaza Kmart is nothing more than a labelscar anymore, while Publix does their thing. The Beachway Plaza Publix was a later addition to the plaza, opening in the early 2000's on top of a former Bealls Department Store that relocated down the street to a larger building. The Beachway Plaza Publix looks like any other Publix from the early 2000's, so I didn't get any photos of that. However, to make up for having nothing more than a grassy field across the street where Albertsons used to be, I had to make up for that with some photos of the abandoned Kmart:
Seen here is former Kmart #7321, which opened on March 13, 1980, and expanded sometime in the 1990s to bring the building into the form we see today. While this was one of three Kmart stores that once called Bradenton home, this was the longest lasting of the bunch, remaining open until early 2020. At this point, it's quite impressive for any Kmart to have operated into the 2020's, so this store had quite the run, especially since its other two local cohorts closed during Kmart's initial bankruptcy waves in the early 2000's.
Empty for just over a year at the time of my visit, the place still retains its classic early 1980's Kmart look. However, this well-preserved look won't be around much longer. In September 2020, it was announced that Target would be moving into the old Bradenton Kmart building, another addition in Target's recent "shopping spree" of purchasing closed Kmart buildings. Target has been taking advantage of Kmart's demise of late, buying at least 10 (if not more) vacant Kmart (and Sears) stores to repurpose throughout the country. At only 49,000 square feet, the new Target will be one of the company's flex format designs, only taking up about half of Kmart's old space. While this will be a smaller format Target, Target does have a full-size location along US 41 in Bradenton to compliment this store, as well as a Super Target on the Sarasota/Bradenton line near the Mall at University Town Center.
Target had yet to begin work on their renovations as of my visit, so I was able to document this building in its original Kmart-designed form.
The entryway and the space immediately to the left and right of it comprise the original 1980 Kmart building. The far left side of the building, including the home of the current garden center, was added on during the 1990's remodel.
A pharmacy labelscar is still present, with the garden center also poking into view.
When Kmart expanded the building, the interior portion of the garden center got pushed out to the front, rather than being added to the side of the building like most other stores have. The odd placement of the garden center was due to another building facing 75th Street West that blocked the amount of space Kmart had to expand in. While the interior garden center is out here, the outdoor portion of the garden center was able to be tucked into the left side of the building, resembling the more common configuration.
Here's a look at the outdoor garden center portion, as seen from the front of the building.
Conversion of the old Bradenton Kmart into a Target should begin any time now, if it hasn't already by the time this post goes live. Even though I missed out on the Albertsons building, at least I got the old Kmart as a consolation prize (and as a bonus for this post).
Before moving on, here's another photo submission from Reviewer Jay, showing the old Bradenton Kmart while it was in the middle of its liquidation sale in early 2020.
Now that we've had our daily dose of Kmart, the time has come to scan over some satellite imagery of the former Albertsons store across the street, beginning with some bird's eye aerial images courtesy of Google Maps:
And now some historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth and historicaerials.com:
Former Albertsons #4354 - 2020 - Here we see the building is gone, with sitework for Lucky's getting under way.
Former Albertsons #4354 - 2019 - The building is still standing here.
Former Albertsons #4354 - 2014 - Interesting to note here: a small portion of the strip plaza attached to the former Albertsons was removed sometime in the late 2010's, specifically the little piece in the middle that made a portion of the plaza look like a little open-air mall.
Albertsons #4354 - 2010
Albertsons #4354 - 2002
Albertsons #4354 - 1994
Future Albertsons #4354 - 1969 - There was no other satellite imagery available between 1994 and 1969, but it looks like the neighborhood behind the old Albertsons was being built at the time of this image.
Since the site of Albertsons #4354 and the old Kmart were right near the main bridge to Anna Maria Island, I decided to journey out that way after my few retail stops for a quick peek at the white-sand Gulf shores. I don't get out to the Gulf of Mexico often (the last time I'd seen the Gulf prior to this trip was ten years prior), so I decided to squeeze in a visit this time, as the bridge was right there. So I had myself a little walk along the beach, followed by a walk over toward the Anna Maria Causeway itself. It was nice, but of course, a retail blogger's work is never done. After my walk it was back in the car and back to the supermarket, as I still had a few more stores to cover before heading home. Beach walks, old Kmarts, and a supermarket building that fell victim to the turbulent waters of Florida's supermarket scene - all the usual trials and tribulations of the average Floridian retail blogger. However, no matter how crazy this state is, I love every bit of it! More of my retail travels to come soon, but for now, until the next post,
The Albertsons Florida Blogger