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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Apr. 16, 201910:42 AM EST

Wawa ‘keying in on’ Downtown location

The Pennsylvania-based chain opened its 9th store Tuesday and plans 25 to 30 in Northeast Florida.

Wawa Inc., which opened its ninth area store today, is closing in on a Downtown presence and might secure the location in several weeks.

“We’re keying in on a particular site Downtown,” Brian Duke, Wawa regional real estate manager, said at the grand opening of the Fort Caroline area gas station and convenience store at 2500 Monument Road in East Arlington.

Duke declined to identify the Downtown site but acknowledged it was in the Northbank or Springfield area.

“We have a specific site in mind,” he said.

Duke said the Wawa team is working on due diligence and needs to meet with city reviewers to make sure the site works.

Retired NFL All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins, a Jacksonville native, makes the "Dawk" hoagie at the grand opening. It features grilled chicken, Parmesan cheese, spinach, tomato, pickles, sweet peppers and yellow mustard.

“It’s a lot of heavy lifting to get the right site in the right location,” he said.

Pennsylvania-based Wawa entered the area market in December 2017. Its site needs are 1.5 to 2 acres at a signalized intersection.

Downtown also presents challenges to the 24-hour store because it only has about 5,000 residents, which cuts down on overnight customer traffic.

He said previously that while Downtown’s population is 50,000 to 60,000 people during the day, it drops after 6 p.m  

Duke said Tuesday he had no details to share about the location and no timeframe for its development.

He acknowledged in February 2018 that Wawa was looking at the Springfield and Downtown area but said price and traffic were factors in choosing a site. He said then that the site opportunity hadn’t “presented itself yet.”

Wawa opened its first area stores in December 2017 and has nine in Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties.

It expects to open its 10th by year-end at 13363 Beach Blvd.

Crowds pack the Wawa grand opening at 2500 Monument Road in East Arlington.

Duke said 11 sites are under contract and a dozen more are in stages of review.

Wawa intends to open three to four stores annually as it fills in the market.

“As Jacksonville continues to grow, we’ll grow with it,” he said.

Duke said Nassau County “is on our radar,” but did not say which locations might be of interest.

North Jacksonville between Arlington and Nassau County doesn’t have a Wawa. There is a Wawa in development in Northwest Jacksonville at Commonwealth and Edgewood avenues.

Asked about the River City Marketplace area near Jacksonville International Airport, Duke said none were planned there but “we’re always looking.”

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