Sunday, February 20, 2022

The Art Deco Publix Stores of St. Petersburg

     Many people consider Publix's famous "Wing Store" design to be the company's most iconic storefront from the company's 90+ year history, with its striking mid-century facade becoming a familiar sight across the many cities of the Floridian peninsula. However, the building design the Wing Store replaced was iconic in its own right, capturing the unique flare of Floridian architecture at the time. Prior to the debut of the Wing Store in the mid-late 1950's, Publix had a design commonly referred to as the "Art Deco" model. The Art Deco model was Publix's first store design from when the company began to grow into a chain, debuting in 1940. That was the year Publix's founder George Jenkins relocated his original Publix store in downtown Winter Haven to what he called his "dream store" - Florida's first modern self-serve supermarket. George Jenkin's "dream store" incorporated the popular art deco motif to create a modern showpiece of a supermarket, a stately building that would stand out in the urban and suburban communities of Florida. The Art Deco stores were typically built in downtown and urbanized areas, as that was where most business was conducted in the 1940's. With the dawn of the shopping center in the late 1950's, Publix's strategy changed, and the company began replacing many of these stand-alone Art Deco stores with new locations in shopping centers. The move to shopping centers also brought about the dawn of the Wing Store era, closing the book on Publix's Art Deco design. While many of these Art Deco Publix stores were replaced by larger shopping center-based locations come the 1960's, a surprising number of these buildings remain today in mostly original form, as can be seen here. Interestingly, St. Petersburg happens to have two very well-preserved examples of these former Art Deco Publix stores surviving to this day, both within 3 miles of each other, and both still serving a retail use. These are some pretty interesting examples of Art Deco era Publix stores, and a fun little look deep into Florida's supermarket past:

Photo courtesy of the Pleasant Family Shopping blog

Publix #7 (The Original)
1720 16th Street North, St. Petersburg, FL

     The first of the two Art Deco Publix stores we'll be looking at today is the 16th Street North location, just north of Woodlawn Park. This building holds a small bit of significance, as it was the very first Publix to operate in the city of St. Petersburg when it opened its doors on June 15, 1950, and was the 7th store in the Publix chain overall. Before we get to the pictures from the present below, above you can see what this building looked like in its original form. The above photo appears to have been taken sometime in the 1970's, based off the design of those two cars in the image. Publix #7 was one of the last Art Deco stores the company held onto, managing to survive until August 21, 1982. From what I can gather, Publix #7 was closed outright, due to its small size and how outdated the building was for the time, with no opportunities to expand the building due to the size of the lot it was on. Coincidentally, the store ID #7 was recycled for a new Publix that opened behind St. Petersburg's Tyrone Square Mall in 1983, but that store was in no way connected to the old Art Deco location on 16th Street North. At that time, when Publix closed a store outright, the store number of the closed location would become the next available store number to be assigned to a new location, and it just happened the next new store to come into development following this one's closure was on the other side of town.

     Following Publix's closure in 1982, an independent grocer named Howell's Supermarket took over the building. Howell's Supermarket was owned by a former Publix manager, who closed his store after only two years in order to open a new store that was more meat-centric (as Mr. Howell's experience was in the meat business, however, his new ventures were short lived and took a bit of a sad turn after closing Howell's Supermarket, those events you can read about in more detail here and here - thank you Sing Oil blogger for clipping those articles for me!). Following the closure of Howell's, this building housed a short-lived furniture store called Easton Furniture, and by 1989 had become home to the League of Mercy Thrift Store. League of Mercy lasted in this building until the late 1990's, after which the Manhattan Hairstyling Academy took over. Manhattan Hairstyling Academy closed around 2009, and within the next year the building's current tenant took over the space:

     Since 2010 or so, this former Publix building has housed the world's only known Art Deco Family Dollar store. What's even more amazing is that even with all the different tenants this building has housed between Publix and Family Dollar, the exterior is virtually unchanged. I see the curved glass block panels on the corner of the building have been covered over, as well as the glass block above the front awning, but amazingly everything else still looks the same as it had since 1950!

     Of all the former Art Deco Publix buildings still out there, this is probably one of the most original ones left in the wild, although I do know the Orlando Art Deco Publix-turned-camera shop is up there on the originality list too. A lot of times these buildings have the center tower over the door and the sign frames cut off, or just get remodeled quite a bit over the course of time to where only a few of the distinctive traits remain. For whatever reason no one bothered to modify this building over the last 72 years, but I'm not complaining!

     Glass block was a big design feature in these Art Deco Publix buildings. The glass blocks were used as decoration on the facade (a trait that was better preserved at the next store we'll be seeing), and to act as windows too. Both sides of the building are lined with glass block windows like the ones seen above, which let a little bit of natural light into the salesfloor.

     A small loading bay sits at the back right corner of the building. The back of the building bumps up to the property line, so all the receiving doors were moved to be on this side of the building.

     While the back of the building is just as original as the front, there's no denying the front is a little more fun to look at than the old loading bay in the back! I like how Family Dollar was able to fit their sign onto the old Publix frame. Even with the odd shape of the sign frame, Family Dollar's logo doesn't look odd on it either.

     Family Dollar hung posters over the windows on the right side of the building, but kept the windows on the left side exposed. However, the water machine, the ice cooler, and the propane cage block a lot of the remaining windows, but I guess a little bit of light is better than nothing.

     While all the sidewalk machines block it on this side, on the right side we can see some of the original marble detailing that was commonly used in older Publix stores. The marble detailing around the doors and windows was a design trait that originated from the 1940 "dream store", and was used by Publix on their store facades well into the 1970's. Marble is an expensive building material, and the stuff you see here is the real deal (and not just a fake coating), so I wouldn't be surprised if Publix stopped using marble because of the cost. Even though marble isn't used anymore, one of the "dream store's" major building design traits actually lives on into Publix's modern stores of the 2020's - that being the terrazzo floors.

     The setup of the entryway is still original to Publix as well, with two doors in the middle of the building like this. Originally, these would have been "electric eye" automatic doors, but through the years these have been downgraded into traditional manual pull doors.

     Stepping inside, we still have a vague old supermarket feel, although the interior has certainly seen much more modification than the exterior. In the photo above, you can see the glass block windows on the side of the building still open up to the interior, which certainly enhances the aesthetic.

     Looking down the right side wall, we see the old terrazzo floors have been tiled over. Really old Publix stores also used fluorescent tube lighting like we see here, although I'd be shocked if these lights actually dated back to the Publix days (as lights seem like something that would get replaced by someone over a span of 72 years).

     Even with all the stuff Family Dollar crammed onto the wall, it wasn't tall enough to block over the glass block windows, as another one pokes out from above the shelving in the above image.

     Besides the glass block windows, nothing else on the interior was jumping out at me as being a definitive relic of the building's Publix days. Above is the back wall of the store, where Publix would have had a rather large meat counter originally, from what I can tell from the few old photos I found online. I'm not super familiar with how an Art Deco Publix was laid out though, considering how long ago all of these stores closed. This other image I found appears to have a more pulled back view compared to the last image I linked to, showing the building was mostly a few short grocery aisles with the big meat counter in the back. Full service departments like bakeries, delis, and such weren't really a thing in the 1940's and 1950's, so it makes sense these older Publix stores would have had a larger focus on dry foods with a little bit of meat, frozen, and produce sprinkled in.

     Those old photos I linked to of a 1940's/1950's-era Publix really made this place feel spacious back in the day. The Family Dollar in here now was actually quite claustrophobic, with the tight aisles and tall shelves. The old Publix was pretty comparable in size to your average Family Dollar in an old drugstore space, but felt super cramped.

     A very narrow cut through separated Family Dollar's aisles into two halves.

     Unfortunately, the glass block windows on the left side of the building were blocked by this row of tall coolers, which were set against the wall.

     One last interior photo looking across the front of the store, into the front left corner where two of Family Dollar's three registers were located. The third register is located in the front right corner all by itself, and was visible in my first interior shot. That register seemed to never be used, with these two serving as the store's main checkout counter.

     Back outside, here are a few more images to take in the building's wonderfully preserved Publix facade.

     The left side of the building looks identical to the right side, just minus the loading bay at the back.

     Due to the layout of the property, the parking lot here is split in two, with a separate lot on each side of the building. The left side lot was the more popular of the two, as it sits right on the corner of 16th St. North and the cross street of 17th Avenue, making it easier to get in and out of. The right side lot was completely empty when I was here.

     Family Dollar's road sign, which was located in a small island in the middle of the right-side parking lot. The road sign isn't original to the building, and according to Google Street View, was added by Family Dollar. The road sign does match the aesthetic of the building though.

     Here's one last look as this amazingly preserved Art Deco Publix as we begin to transition into the second half of todays post. Traveling three miles north of here and then heading seven blocks east, we find this place:

Photo courtesy of the Pleasant Family Shopping blog

Publix #27 (The Original)
5420 9th Street North, St. Petersburg, FL

     Our second Art Deco Publix of the day is this slightly newer store. Opened five years after the location we just toured, the original Publix #27 held its grand opening on February 1, 1955. Being a little newer, this store featured a slightly different exterior design compared to store #7 down the road, and was a little bit bigger. This store was built right as Publix was starting to transition into the Wing Store era, which is why this location has more Wing Store-like signage compared to the previous store we toured. Also unlike the previous location, this building was very short-lived as a Publix, closing after only 8 years on June 10, 1963. Publix relocated from this building to a new Wing Store further north on 9th Street at the new Gateway Mall complex (now Gateway Market Center). The new location, which carried over the store #27, opened on June 11, 1963. Publix still has a store in the modern Gateway Market Center complex today (store #688), which opened in 1999 following the redevelopment of Gateway Mall into a power center.

     After Publix left the 9th Street North Art Deco building behind, the building became home to a Lindsley Lumber store, which opened in 1965. Lindsley Lumber was a chain of hardware stores based out of Miami, with locations scattered around South Florida and the Tampa Bay area. Lindsley Lumber didn't last long at this location, with Cloth World taking over by 1968. Cloth World left in the mid-1970's, with Bob's Carpet Mart being the building's next tenant come the late 1970's. Bob's was another short-lived tenant, as by the turn of the 1980's the building had then been converted into an S&H Greenstamps Redemption Center (a bit of a fitting reuse, as Publix was a longtime distributor of S&H Greenstamps). The redemption center closed in 1987 after Publix announced they would no longer offer Greenstamps, following the general decline in popularity of the Greenstamp program in the late 1980's. In 1988 the building's current tenant came along. While the current tenant did make some major modifications to the Publix building (much more than we saw at the last Art Deco store we toured), the building is still quite original, and I'm quite impressed with the amount of effort this chain did in restoring the old Publix building rather than demolishing it:

     In 1988, Walgreens came along set up shop in the old Publix building, and has remained here ever since (becoming this building's longest lasting tenant too). There was certainly enough room here for Walgreens to have torn this building down and built one of their generic boxes, but they didn't. While Walgreens was building stand-alone locations in the late 80's, it wasn't until the late 90's when the drugstore industry really began to push for the free-standing corner stores we see all over the place today. Since this was an early free-standing location, maybe Walgreens was more willing to take on the adaptive reuse of this building rather than flattening it completely, compared to when the cookie-cutter stores began popping up left and right a decade later. Like I said with the last store, I'm not going to complain, as the old Publix building got to survive, and Walgreens was still able to add in all the usual modern features (such as a pharmacy drive-thru) with this building.

     Walgreens replaced the windows along the front of the building with their standard ones, and closed in Publix's old entrance in the center of the facade (underneath where Walgreens' logo is now) for a new entrance carved out of the front left corner of the building. Interestingly, Walgreens splurged and bought new matching marble to patch up all the holes left behind when they closed in Publix's old entryway and replaced the windows.

     The photo above shows Walgreens' current entrance, which is setup like you'd find at any other Walgreens store out there.

     With how standardized Walgreens' stores are, it's refreshing to find a unique one like this for a change! While we're here, let's head inside and see what it's like in there:

     While the exterior is unique, the interior of this store was completely rebuilt to feel like any other Walgreens. The only odd thing about the interior was this little sliver of the store containing the beauty department, which lined the left wall. This part of the store was under a lower ceiling than the rest of the building.

     These large columns mark the transition between the lower and higher ceiling parts of the store. The lower ceiling part of the store is in the little wing that sticks out from the main portion of the Art Deco facade, appearing to have been a separate room when Publix was here. I'm guessing the left side of the store was a stockroom of some kind when Publix was here, which Walgreens (or one of the building's other tenants before) expanded into.

     From the store's back wall, here's a better overview of the transition in ceiling height on the left side of the building.

     Moving further to the right, it begins to feel more and more like a regular Walgreens in here.

     While our tour of the Family Dollar down the road included a photo of an aisle stocked full of Christmas merchandise, here at Walgreens we find Halloween stuff! I promise you I took these photos on the same day, within an hour or so of each other - Family Dollar was just way ahead of themselves with putting out the Christmas merchandise!

     Spinning around from the Halloween stuff, here's a look toward the back of the store from that same aisle. Walgreens' classic mirrors line the back wall, this scene looking like it was captured at just about any other Walgreens store out there.

     The store's pharmacy counter was located in the last aisle, along the right side wall heading into the corner.

     Looking away from the pharmacy counter, the remainder of the right side wall is home to a row of coolers, followed by the photo counter in the front right corner.

     Fairly standard Walgreens front end here, with one last look at the odd ceiling transition on the left side of the building before we head out.

     Outside once again, here's a look at some of the decorative curved glass block on the building's facade. These curved panels were covered over at the Family Dollar, but were preserved here. Interestingly, the ramp remains in the middle of the building noting where the building's original entrance was too.

     On the right side of the building we find Walgreens' liquor store, tucked into the little expansion wing on this side.

     The pharmacy drive-thru is located on this side of the building, with a close-up of some of the detailing on the side wall visible too.

     And we'll end our tour of this Walgreens with one final photo of the well-preserved Publix facade, still sitting here as a reminder of what was. It's amazing that after so many years and so many tenants, both of the Art Deco Publix stores we saw are in such original condition. It's great to see these buildings have survived the years and still serve a retail purpose, a great reminder of the past while still serving us in the present.

     I hope everyone enjoyed this little dive deep into Publix's past today, seeing these well-preserved classics. Pinellas County is a fun place for old retail, and we'll see more from the area eventually. Next time we have more retail conversions coming to the blog, this time in the way of a former Albertsons store, so be sure to come back in two weeks for that!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Former Albertsons #4302 - St. Petersburg, FL (4th Street North)


Albertsons #4302 / Publix #1319 / Publix #1456
3700 4th Street North, St. Petersburg, FL - 4th Street Station

     For our next former Albertsons store, we return to the birthplace of Albertsons' Florida division: Pinellas County. Albertsons' first Floridian location opened in Clearwater on October 9, 1974, the first of two stores planned for Pinellas County during the chain's initial launch. We saw the original Clearwater Albertsons on the blog a long time ago, as a number of contributors were able to send in pictures of that location during its 2015 closing, which you can recap here. Shortly after the opening of the Clearwater store, its sister location to the south in St. Petersburg opened in December 1974, that store being the one we'll tour today.

Photo courtesy of

     Pictured above is the 4th Street North Albertsons as it appeared in 1975, shortly after opening. Like all of Florida's earliest Albertsons stores, the original St. Petersburg Albertsons opened under the name "Skaggs-Albertsons". Skaggs-Albertsons was a joint effort by the Skaggs company and Albertsons to expand into the Southeastern United States, a territory new to both of these operators. Launched in 1970 with the opening of stores in Texas, the Skaggs-Albertsons partnership would ultimately end 8 years later in 1978. Following the dissolution of the partnership, Albertsons would be the company to take sole ownership of the Florida division, Skaggs getting the Texas stores as part of the breakup deal. The Skaggs-Albertsons stores in Florida were quite profitable back then, so Albertsons was very happy to be the company to retain control of the Florida division. A lot of the early success Albertsons had in Florida was due to the uniqueness of their stores compared to what any other supermarket in the state offered at the time. At 55,000 square feet, Albertsons was running the largest supermarkets in Florida, and Albertsons was also the first in the state to combine a supermarket with a drug store and a large selection of general merchandise (electronics, automotive, etc.) The concept was different, and that unique format is what led Albertsons to grow so much in Florida in the coming decades. Unfortunately, the loss of many of those unique features through the years (especially the large general merchandise departments) made Albertsons more like any average mid-tier grocery store. As Publix and Winn-Dixie began to embrace many of the pioneering concepts Albertsons already had (like in-store pharmacies and larger stores) come the late 1980's and early 90's, it was the beginning of Albertsons' downward projection in Florida.

Photo courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times

     The 4th Street North Albertsons would become the first of three Albertsons stores to operate in the city of St. Petersburg itself, although many other Albertsons stores would pop up in the surrounding suburbs by the late 1990's. Albertsons always appeared to do very well in Pinellas County, as Albertsons never closed a single store in Pinellas until 2008, when all but two of the county's Albertsons stores were sold to Publix. Even following that, the two stores to survive the 2008 mass sale to Publix were store #4301 in Clearwater, which as mentioned before lasted until 2015, and store #4402 at Largo Mall, which made it into the Safeway days. That's a really good legacy for Albertsons, especially when some areas (like Tampa, just across the bay from St. Petersburg) had some Albertsons stores crash and burn in the 1990's.

Photo courtesy of Otherstream on flickr.

     In 1998, Albertsons did a massive remodel to this store, adding an 8,000 square foot addition to the right (north) side of the building, redoing the entire facade, and modifying the interior. The 1998 remodel happened around the same time Publix built a brand new store across the street, so it seems like Albertsons wanted to keep this store fresh in the face of some modernized competition popping up so close by. In the end though, the 4th Street North Albertsons was one of the 49 stores Albertsons sold to Publix in 2008, and it became a new Publix shortly after. The other Publix is still there across the street too, and this situation in St. Petersburg is probably the most famous example of Publix and their habit of operating two stores so close to each other, the situation made notable because of this Tampa Bay Times article from 2013 explaining the odd arrangement.

The remaining Publixsons photos are courtesy of

     Publix did very little to this former Albertsons store upon taking it over in late 2008. The building had a facade repaint and a minor decor swap, switching out Albertsons' previous Blue and Green Awnings decor for Publix's Classy Market 2.0, but very little else was done to modify the building from its Albertsons days.

     One of the only other major modifications Publix made to this building was swapping out Albertsons' swinging doors for sliding ones, a pretty standard change found at most Publixsons conversions.

     Thanks to some old photos I found on, we'll be able to head inside for a quick glimpse at the interior of the old Publixsons. Following the 1998 expansion, it appears most of the original Albertsons layout was preserved, with the bakery and deli in the front left corner of the building, produce following in the back left. One thing to note in the above photo was that the pharmacy was relocated to an island just inside the front entrance as part of the remodel. The island setup is very reminiscent of a design Albertsons would make standard in the Grocery Palace stores. Since this store remodeled in 1998, and Grocery Palace didn't debut until 1999, this would have been one of the very first stores Albertsons prototyped the pharmacy island in.

     Like many Publixsons stores (especially in the older Albertsons buildings), the grocery aisles were split with short aisles of non-foods and HBC items in front of the main grocery aisles, which you can see the markers for in the background of the above image.

     A strange perspective that appears to have been taken from up on a ladder (or by a freakishly tall person), we see the bakery and produce department on the left side of the store, as seen from one of the grocery aisles on the other side of the building.

     More grocery aisles, with the meat counter and windows for the upstairs offices visible in the background.

     Along the front end, we have some relics of the Blue and Green Awnings decor that used to be in here - namely that angled crown molding piece along the top of the wall. Interestingly, even though this store was expanded along the right side in the 1998 remodel, it appears the old side entrance was preserved following the expansion (visible beyond the check lanes). Albertsons usually sealed over those side entrances in favor of using that space for relocated/expanded pharmacies or liquor stores in the more extensive late 90's/early 2000's remodels, so its quite intriguing that the side entrance was preserved at this store.

     Lastly, here's a night shot of the Publixsons facade, our last glimpse of this store while it was still standing. In late 2013, it was announced that Publix would close this store in order to tear it down and replace it with a modern building after only 5 years of operating here. The Publixsons officially closed on December 28, 2013, with the new store opening roughly a year later in late 2014.

     Getting back to my photos, we find ourselves at the Publix that replaced the remains of Albertsons #4302. Besides a little old Florida architectural detailing, what we see here is a pretty average 2010's Publix, a 54M model specifically. Publix's 54M model includes a larger prepared foods selection and a more spacious "grand aisle" compared to the typical Publix, which looks similar but is much more condensed in the area around the fresh departments. You can peruse a detailed tour of a 54M Publix here if you want a better idea of what one of these stores looks like. Our tour of this store is going to be a bit of an express tour, as I had more interesting supermarkets to visit following this place (which was my first stop of the day), and we've seen plenty of modern Publix stores before.

     The new Publix is of a comparable size to the old Albertsons, roughly the size of the Albertsons building before the 1998 expansion. Publix used the little bit of space gained from shrinking the building to add in a drive-thru pharmacy lane on the building's south side, as Publix's new building doesn't abut the southern property line like Albertsons' building did (a change you can see later in this post during the satellite imagery).

     Since we're here we'll do a quick spin around the inside, although there really isn't anything out of the ordinary with this store anymore:

     The front walkway continues the facade's old Florida theme, with some fake windows and shutters lining the walkway between the entrance and exit doors.

     Inside, we turn to the right to find the bakery in the front right corner of the building.

     Here's a slightly more zoomed out photo of the bakery department, as seen from the edge of produce. Produce takes up most of the space in the store's "grand aisle", with the service departments lining the perimeter wall.

     Following the bakery is the deli, located along the right wall. Some coolers and a salad bar can be found in front of the deli, with a small dining nook located just out of frame to the right of the deli counter.

     Here's a better look into the produce department, which feels rather large in these 54M stores.

     Here's an overview of the grand aisle as seen from the back, with produce, deli, and the bakery all visible here.

     Spinning around 180 degrees from where I took that last photo, we find the wine and specialty cheese departments. These departments are located at the very end of the grand aisle in the store's back right corner.

     The specialty cheese counter is typically reserved for Publix's higher-end stores, featuring a number of fancy cheeses to pair with all the wines conveniently located in the department next door.

     Leaving the grand aisle, we encounter the seafood and meat departments along the store's back wall.

     Like most larger-size modern Publix stores, the grocery aisles have a drop ceiling over them, with the perimeter and center store frozen food aisles using the exposed warehouse ceiling.

     Since I was here very early in the morning, the front end (and the entire store itself) was rather calm and empty. Like most Publix stores, just wait a few hours and the place will be packed!

     The meat coolers on the back wall transition into dairy right about where that 'Restrooms' sign is hanging.

     Frozen foods occupies two aisles in the center of the store, the photo above depicting one of them.

     Here's one last look at the back wall. The dairy products seen here wrap around into the store's last aisle (aisle 14) as well, which can be seen in the next photo:

     The pharmacy, which is located in the front left corner of the building, and had yet to open for the day at the time of my visit. I always liked the look of the pharmacies in these Classy Market 3.0 new-build stores, mostly because of the effect from the shiny glass tiles used here.

     Turning around, a few short aisles of pharmaceuticals extend out from the front of the pharmacy counter, with the check lanes following those.

     The check lanes coming into view, that completes our quick spin around the new Publix that replaced former Albertsons #4302.

     Publix's new liquor store, which is attached to the right side of the building.

     So that's the new Publix for you. However, if you couldn't find everything you needed during your shopping trip here...

     …you can just make the 7 minute walk across the street to the other Publix to buy what you couldn't find at the other store - how convenient! Just what will Publix think of next to make my shopping that much more pleasurable?!

     And I did just that too. Since the two stores are so close together, I just left my car parked at the former Publixsons and walked across the street for a few photos of the other Publix. Waiting for the light to change at the crosswalk on 4th Street North, I took this photo of the sign for the Publix across the road at Northeast Park Shopping Center (the former Publixsons site directly behind where I was standing to take this picture). The Northeast Park Shopping Center Publix goes back a long ways, which is why the plaza has this classic trapezoid-shaped Publix road sign out front.

     My 1500-foot journey completed, Publix #640 at Northeast Park Shopping Center comes into view.

     Opened in 1998, this store replaced an older Wing Store-era building just around the corner from here, which we'll take a look at in a moment.

     This is one of the larger format late 90's/early 2000's Publix stores. While the facade is quite interesting with all the arches, the interior isn't anything out of the ordinary for a store from this era. I didn't go inside this Publix, but if you want a taste of what the inside looks like, Google has you covered.

     Turning the corner from modern Publix #640, we find the store it replaced, old Publix #42. Publix #42 was a Wing Store that opened with the shopping center in 1959, and appears to have expanded at least once during its time in operation (as an addition was built onto the back of this building). Publix #42 relocated around the corner in 1998, when an entire wing of the original shopping center was demolished to make way for the modern Publix. Following Publix's move, the old store was converted into a Stein Mart, which closed with the chain in 2020. I happened upon this space as it was in the process of being converted into a new Crunch Fitness. While Crunch's signage was up at the time, the interior remodeling was still in progress during my visit.

     When Stein Mart moved in, they removed all traces from Publix's time here. Looking toward Stein Mart's entrance, we see it was all rebuilt to the usual Stein Mart design, with a pair of display windows to each side of the doors. Inside, a construction crew had gutted out everything from Stein Mart in order to begin the conversion into Crunch Fitness, so there weren't any traces of anything supermarket-esque left in there.

     Turning away from the former Stein Mart/Publix space, here's a look down the remaining original strip of the 1958-built plaza. Along the base of the windows, you'll see some decorative green marble. That marble would have matched Publix's original facade, as marble was a big part of Publix's older facade designs. The remaining marble is about the only trace of anything left here from Publix's original store, with how everything else was so heavily remodeled since Publix's move.

     The morning sun glare wasn't helping me here, but here's one last look at the exterior of the original Publix store in the present day, with its neighbor Office Depot popping into the picture too.

     At the very end of the plaza was this CVS store, which was previously an Eckerd, this space completing our stroll around Northeast Park Shopping Center.

     Now that we've walked the entire length of the plaza, it's time to head back across the street to the Publixsons site for some aerial images, starting with some Bird's Eye aerias courtesy of Bing Maps:

Front - All of these bird's eye images show the modern Publix store

Right Side


Left Side

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

Former Albertsons #4302 - 2021

Former Albertsons #4302 - April 2014 - The new Publix building under construction 

Former Albertsons #4302 - January 2014 - The original Albertsons building is still standing here, but is being prepped for demolition

Former Albertsons #4302 - 2012

Albertsons #4302 - 2008

Albertsons #4302 - 2002

Albertsons #4302 - 1998 - The image above shows the building after the major remodel that year.

Albertsons #4302 - 1994 - The building in its original form

Albertsons #4302 - 1984

Future Albertsons #4302 - 1969 - Albertsons took out an entire block and a half of the original street grid to make way for the new store

     With all the historic aerial images for the old Albertsons out of the way, for fun, let's take a look at a few aerials of Northeast Park Shopping Center across the street:

     Here's Northeast Park's current arrangement. The modern Publix is the large building with the lighter roof to the right, with the original Publix being the big building in the older wing at the bottom of the image, the building closest to the newer Publix store.

     Here's an image of Northeast Park from 1994, showing the plaza's original arrangement. Everything to the right of the original Publix was demolished to make way for the new store, which was over half of the original complex.

     And for fun, here's Northeast Park Shopping Center in 1969. If you look really close at the Publix building in the above image, do you notice anything interesting about it?

    Zooming in for the answer to that question - you can see the tips of Publix's wings in the aerial, which I thought was pretty neat! I always like a good Wing Store-era Publix, as these buildings were classics, and such a large portion of Florida's supermarket history.

     Ending this post with an aerial image of a Wing Store seems pretty fitting, as our next post will dig deep into Publix's past for a look at some really old, but really well preserved, Publix stores. The next post will be pretty interesting, so be sure to come back in two weeks to check that out!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger