Wawa Inc., the Pennsylvania-based convenience store and gas station chain that has opened 76 Florida locations in three years, has Jacksonville on its map for expansion.
“We will continue to expand and look for sites in the state and hope to reach the Jacksonville area in the next several years,” said spokeswoman Lori Bruce by email.
City Building Inspection Division Chief Tom Goldsbury said Tuesday he met three weeks ago with an architect and civil engineer representing Wawa.
Goldsbury said they discussed general procedures, but no plans have been submitted.
He said no locations were specified. “That is something Wawa is working on,” he said.
Goldsbury said he was under the impression some sites were chosen, but did not know for sure. He said there also could be sites outside Duval County in metropolitan Jacksonville.
Goldsbury said he didn’t know Wawa’s timeline for development.
The company launched its Florida presence in July 2012 in Orlando, then expanded into Tampa. This year, it opened three stores each in Southwest Florida and Daytona.
Bruce said Wawa is on track to open 25 new stores in Florida this year and 25 in 2016.
When Wawa enters a market, it’s not unusual for it to open multiple stores. Its first five Orlando stores opened within a month.
The company said then it would open 100 stores in the Orlando and Tampa markets by 2017.
Bruce said Tuesday the company has a target of 180 stores in Florida by 2019. The South Florida Business Journal quoted the company president as saying the goal is to create a “Wawa South.”
Wawa is a privately held chain of more than 700 convenience stores, with more than 450 offering fuel, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.
Most stores are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
It said it created a “fresh, new look” for its Florida stores with colors, materials and textures to complement the look and feel of the Sunshine State. It said the prototype was designed by Coleman Brandworx in New York City and Cuhaci & Peterson Architects Engineers Planners in Orlando.
The company says its standard prototype is a 4,000- to 6,000-square-foot store on about two acres with eight multiproduct fuel dispensers.
Wawa, which is based in Wawa, Pa., near Philadelphia, says its stores offer a large fresh foodservice selection, including Wawa brands.
In early October, it launched the Wawa Credit Card with Citi Retail Services, which allows customers to save 5 cents a gallon on up to 100 gallons of fuel a month.
The chain attracts attention. Market Force Information, a Colorado-based research firm, reported in July that Wawa and Costco were consumers’ favorite places to fill up their gas tanks, and that Wawa and Quik Trip were the top two favorite gas station/convenience store brands.
CSPnet.com found that Wawa Inc. was the 15th largest convenience-store chain based on store count, up from No. 16 in 2014. The 7-Eleven chain, with almost 8,300 stores, was No. 1.
Wawa was founded in 1803 in New Jersey and incorporated in 1865 as the Millville Manufacturing Co., a textile company. In 1902, its owner opened a small milk plant in Wawa and offered home delivery.
As supermarkets became popular, the company opened its first food market. The Wawa dairy continues to operate.
Wawa.com said the store was named from a local Native American tribe in honor of their favored game, the Canada goose.