GULF SHORES - With one store open in Orange Beach and another under construction in Fairhope, Florida-based grocer Publix is planning to build a third south Baldwin County store near Jack Edwards Airport.
The 45,000-square-foot store would anchor a 68,000-square-foot shopping center at the intersection of Baldwin County 4 and Alabama 59, according to a proposal from Colonial Properties Trust.
The City Council is scheduled to vote on the center's designs Monday.
"I think it's huge," Mayor G.W. "Billy" Duke III said after a council work session Monday. "We're very excited about it. It's something we've been working on for a while."
Though the proposed shopping center will be adjacent to Colonial Pinnacle at Craft Farms, it technically will be part of the 270,000-square-foot mall, which is anchored by a Target store and Cobb Theater. Gulf Shores is a partner in that larger shopping center, sharing the revenue it produces with the Birmingham mall builders for 10 years.
Duke said that while the Publix-anchored center isn't part of the partnership, the upscale grocery store will probably boost business at Colonial Pinnacle.
"It sort of adds a large anchor store that will create traffic to the rest of that center," the mayor said. "It will certainly assist in leasing out the remaining (space) there."
Colonial Properties and Gulf Shores have also struck a deal to share revenue created by development slated for a third retail center planned for 37.5 acres on the south side of Baldwin County 4. That $43 million, 255,000-square-foot development is anchored by a 60,000-square-foot medical center, which is nearly complete.
Colonial Properties Trust representatives have said that they see the intersection of Baldwin County 4 and Alabama 59 as an emerging hub of commerce in south Baldwin County.
And Paul Glascock, a developer for Colonial, has often said his company is generally very "bullish" on Gulf Shores.
The same could be said for the Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix's attitude toward south Baldwin County. For long the nation's No. 3 grocer had steered clear of the Mobile and Pensacola markets.
Since diving into the market with a store in the Pensacola suburb of Gulf Breeze in May, Publix has briskly moved westward into Baldwin County.
The chain opened its first southwest Alabama store last month in Orange Beach. The 54,340-square-foot store at the Shoppes at Palm Pointe on Alabama 182 employs about 100, according to the company.
A second store is under way in Fairhope and the company is said to be scouting locations around Malbis.
The Gulf Shores site, nearly 8 acres, is within three miles of the Winn-Dixie, Bruno's and Wal-Mart Supercenter in Gulf Shores, and within about seven miles of all three of Foley's major grocers: Winn-Dixie, Wal-Mart and Piggly Wiggly.
Publix's swift move into the market has been followed by the area's No. 2 grocer after Wal-Mart, Winn-Dixie, announcing it will renovate its stores in Foley and Gulf Shores over the next two years after having already done so at its Orange Beach location.