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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Dec. 5, 201706:50 AM EST

Wawas here, there, everywhere

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Gas station and convenience store chain has at least 18 locations in works across Northeast Florida.

Wawa Inc. considers Northeast Florida a 40-store market — and it’s almost halfway there in identifying locations.

At least 18 sites have surfaced in Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties.

The Pennsylvania-based retailer intends to open its first three stores before year-end.

The first two stores are scheduled to open Dec. 13 at 6787 Wilson Blvd. in Westside and at 678 Blanding Blvd. in Orange Park. 

The third store, at 4866 Gate Parkway, is expected to open by year-end.

Wawa identified several more stores to open through the summer. Others are under development or in review, but no completion dates have been announced.

While the company has not provided its list of sites, public documents outline where Wawa is looking for other potential locations.

At the April 6 groundbreaking for the store along Gate Parkway at The Crossing at Town Center, Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens said the company invests $6 million into each store, translating into a $240 million investment in Northeast Florida.

Wawa also hires about 40 employees per store, working out to 1,600 jobs.

Wawa, based in Wawa, Pennsylvania, operates more than 750 fuel and convenience stores in six states.

It opened its first Florida store in 2012 in Orlando.

Five years later, it has opened more than 127 stores across the state and plans to open three more this week. Wawa said in September it plans to open 25 to 30 stores annually in Florida for the next several years.

Its most popular food items are built-to-order hoagies, fresh coffee, breakfast sandwiches and specialty beverages.

There’s no certainty that all 18 sites will be developed. Some deals won’t be completed until terms are reached for land deals and permits are approved.

Competitors, including Jacksonville-based Gate Petroleum Co., are expanding as well.

Misty Skipper, Gate vice president of marketing and communications, said the largest concentration of its stores is in Northeast Florida.

It has been building and redeveloping stores and also is launching stand-alone Gate Express Carwashes around the area.

“Gate has never been without competition,” Skipper said.

“Clean, bright, spacious stores with a quality selection of fresh food will allow us to continue to be competitive. We work every day to make sure we are providing the highest-quality goods and services to our customers,” she said.

Skipper said Gate, created in 1960, provides fuel services to about 200 stores in the Southeast, and almost half of those are branded as Gate.

The largest concentration of those is in Northeast Florida, she said. A Google search finds more than 30 stores in Duval, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties.

Gate’s history says founder Herbert Peyton coined the name from the 1960s JAX Chamber slogan - Jacksonville: A Gateway to Florida.

Jacksonville-based First Coast Energy operates at least 37 Daily’s gas stations and convenience stores in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Gainesville and Broward County.

There are 28 locations in Northeast Florida.

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