Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Secret is Finally Out and Publix is Finally In

Not too long ago, I blogged about the worst kept secret in Osceola County: that Publix is coming to the Water Tower shopping center that sits on the edge of Celebration, right at the interaction of Celebration Avenue and 192. It's languished ever since it was built, going through stores like Snooki goes through nooki partners.

Below, in its entirety, is the press release that finally confirms the coming of Publix:

NEW YORK – Clarion Partners, a leading real estate investment manager, has
acquired the Water Tower Shoppes, a 120,000 square foot neighborhood
shopping center in Celebration, Florida for $18.3 million, it was announced today.
The acquisition was made on behalf of a commingled fund advised by Clarion.
Celebration is an award-winning planned community located in central
Florida, approximately 20 miles southwest of downtown Orlando and within easy
driving distance of Walt Disney World and other major Florida attractions. As
envisioned by the Disney Development Company, it features a small town
aesthetic and buildings designed by world-class architects, including Michael
Graves, Philip Johnson, and Robert M. Stern.
The Water Tower Shoppes is a “village” configuration, located at the
entrance to the town at the intersection of Celebration Avenue and US 192.
Current tenants include SunTrust, Exxon, and Chick-fil-A. Following the
acquisition, Clarion, together with development manager and leasing agent
Crossman & Company, plans to begin redevelopment of the center, including the
introduction of Publix, a dominant grocery chain, to anchor the center.
Celebration benefits from the area’s moderate living costs and from its
proximity to one of the country’s major vacation destinations, where a recovery in
the tourism industry is driving renewed growth. Median household income in the
town is approximately 42 percent above that of the greater metropolitan area.
Demand for retail space is expected to strengthen in 2012, while limited new
construction is likely to help reduce vacancy rates over the next several years.
“Celebration is a unique place in a great location with very attractive
demographics,” said Marc DeLuca, Director at Clarion. “We are pleased to have
New York, February 1, 2012
the opportunity to acquire the Water Tower Shoppes center, and look forward to
further enhancing the shopping experience there for residents of the town.”

Not only am I glad that eventually I won't have to leave The Bubble to buy groceries, but I'm also hoping that new ownership brings some stability to the revolving door of tenants who have come and gone at Water Tower over the years. The names include chains like Planet Smoothie and a short-lived Ace Hardware, along with independent stores like coffee shops, restaurants, vitamin shops, and even an indoor kids' playground. The latest casualty was Magic Nails, a manicure and pedicure salon that disappeared pretty much literally overnight.

Does Publix have what it takes to wrestle Water Tower out of its death throes and give it new life? It's certainly a well-known brand name here in Florida, and the Publix just down the road does a healthy business. Presumably that one will close when ours opens, but will its customers follow it down the road?

Only time will tell, but I'm glad Captain Obvious has finally spoken and the store is confirmed once and for all.

If you're planning to visit Legoland Florida, I just released a comprehensive ebook guide available for both Kindle and Nook.

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