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- 2014 - January - 15th -

Gate adding 4 Duval convenience stores

By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Jacksonville-based Gate Petroleum Co. filed plans for what appears to be its fourth new convenience store in Southside, one of the area's strongest retail, residential and office markets.

It also plans a new St. Johns County store at the World Commerce Center.

"Gate is identifying locations in the Northeast Florida market to better serve our customers and provide opportunity to our employees," said spokeswoman Kristen Beach.

She said the company does not disclose investment costs.

However, based on building permit information, the four Duval stores represent what could be at least a $9 million investment in construction costs alone.

The company has applied for reviews to build a gas station/convenience store and car wash in the Bayard area, which is near the St. Johns County line.

The 6,620-square-foot store and 28 fueling stations, along with a 1,421-square-foot car wash, would be developed on almost 4.1 acres along Philips Highway.

Gate's property is east along Philips Highway south of the Florida 9B interchange and south of Gran Bay Parkway. Gate bought the 37 undeveloped acres in November for $2.7 million from the Diocese of St. Augustine.

Plans show six parcels, totaling 12 acres, are targeted for development. Of that, Gate will combine two parcels for the store and the other sites would be sold.

Gate said it was buying the property to expand its convenience store chain. Gate has 73 company-operated stores and more than 200 independent dealer accounts in five states – Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and North and South Carolina.

With 41 convenience stores in Northeast Florida and 31 in Duval County alone, the company's four new Southside locations are:

• A 6,616-square-foot store with 24 fueling positions and a car wash on 3.17 acres at 4123 Town Center Parkway near the St. Johns Town Center. It should open in February or March.

• A 3,968-square-foot store at 3150 Emerson Street at Interstate 95 to replace a smaller store at 3230 Emerson St. It should open this spring.

• The 6,620-square-foot Bayard store with 28 fueling positions and a car wash on 4.1 acres. It should open in 2015.

• A 6,700-square-foot convenience store with 22 fueling positions and a car wash on almost 3.17 acres at Baymeadows Road East and R.G. Skinner Boulevard. The property is under contract and should be purchased Jan. 16. The store should open late this year or in early 2015.

The 4.47-acre St. Johns County site at International Golf Parkway is under contract and the property should be purchased Jan. 22.

The Town Center Parkway construction costs total more than $2.5 million and the Emerson Street store is $900,000.

If the Bayard and Baymeadows sites cost the same as the Town Center store, the four projects would reach almost a $9 million investment, not counting land, furnishings and inventory and other costs not included in construction.

Meanwhile, Gate also bought the former Applebee's location in North Jacksonville at 574 Busch Drive next to its convenience store at 570 Busch Drive. The 1.5-acre Applebee's site sits next to the 1.9-acre Gate site.

Beach said Gate is developing a site plan to add more fueling positions and store parking.

The developments come at a time when 7-Eleven, RaceTrac, Daily's and other convenience store/gas station chains are building new locations. In addition, observers are watching for the Philadelphia-based Wawa chain to expand from its central Florida focus into other parts of the state, including North Florida.

FirstResearch.com analyzed the convenience stores and truck stops industry, in which companies operate retail locations that primarily sell fuel, groceries, cigarettes, and alcoholic beverages.

The U.S. convenience store and truck stop industry includes about 120,000 stores with combined annual revenue of about $490 billion, it reports.

The industry includes stores that are combination gas station/convenience store as well as convenience stores that don't sell fuel.

"The profitability of individual stores depends on competitive pricing, effective merchandising, and the ability to secure high-traffic locations," said FirstResearch.com.

And it's a fragmented industry with lots of players.

Fuel accounts for about 75 percent of U.S. sales, with other revenue from groceries, cigarettes, and alcoholic beverages.

"Large companies have advantages in purchasing and finance. Small companies can compete effectively by acquiring superior locations or offering specialized merchandise or services," it said.

SOE build-out OK'd

A move by the Supervisor of Elections Office to North Jacksonville is closer now that the city has approved a permit for a $691,301 renovation of the space it will lease.

Tenant Contractors Inc. is shown on the building permit application as the contractor for the project at 1 Imeson Park Blvd.

The 103,000 square feet of space will accommodate a warehouse and storage, a call center, a training room, a ballot room, a Pitney room and demonstration space. The Pitney room accommodates the large piece of equipment that assists the office with "Vote by Mail" ballots. The permit was approved Tuesday.

Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said the project and move should be completed in early March. The landlord is paying the costs for the build-out and moving.

The Daily Record reported in October work had begun on space at One Imeson Center in North Jacksonville for the move by the Supervisor of Elections warehouse center.

The city approved a permit Oct. 16 for Accelerated Contractors LLC to put in a temporary wall to provide privacy for 30,000 square feet of temporary space for the office at 1 Imeson Park Blvd., No. 100. It is a former Sears catalog distribution center.

That project cost was $11,000. One Imeson provided the space for rent-free storage for three months for the supervisor's warehouse equipment. Holland said the savings allowed the SOE to buy a generator and more furniture for the additional training room.

Holland has wanted to move the elections warehouse center from the Gateway Shopping Center, where it has been leasing space since 2006.

The warehouse and elections center move had been the subject of legal challenges that the move discriminated against African-American voters by moving an early voting site.

However, in November, Tax Collector Michael Corrigan, Holland, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, Mayor Alvin Brown and several City Council members announced a deal to keep early voting at Gateway.

The deal will relocate the Tax Collector's call center and mail center from the Gateway branch to the Yates Building in Downtown, making space in Gateway for a 2,400-square-foot customer service and community center that provides voter registration, voter education and early voting.

As part of the deal, the city will extend its lease with Terranova Corp., Gateway's owner, for the mall branch for another five years at its current rate with no escalator clause. Holland said three employees will work daily at the One Imeson warehouse.

Bi-Lo Winn-Dixie adding special pharmacy

The city is reviewing a building permit application for a "Winn-Dixie Special Pharmacy" that includes a pharmacy and pharmacy call center in one of the supermarket chain's manufacturing plants at the Bi-Lo Holdings' 5050 Edgewood Court headquarters complex.

Williams & Rowe Co. Inc. is shown as the contractor for the $584,000 interior build-out of almost 6,000 square feet in the bag plant.

Plans show a call center with 30 stations and four supervisors, conference, break room and reception space, as well as a specialty pharmacy area with product storage and coolers, shipping and receiving, packaging and staging, and offices.

Winn-Dixie spokeswoman Kelly Bell, with St. John & Partners, said the plan is "to repurpose an existing building as a pharmacy and pharmacy call center for some of our higher-cost medications, such as those to treat arthritis and HIV."

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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