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Documents show possible Tampa Trader Joe’s site

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Published:   |   Updated: June 15, 2013 at 12:09 PM
TAMPA -

Plans may be coming together for a potential Trader Joe's boutique grocery store in South Tampa.

Officials for the company are normally hyper-secretive about new locations for the holistic and organic-oriented grocery chain, and executives with Trader Joe’s on Thursday said they have no announcements ready for a store in Tampa.

However, some documents are starting to circulate in the development community in Tampa that relate to a property at 3808 W. Swann Avenue, just west of the intersection with south Dale Mabry Highway.

On June 11, contractors filed for a permit from the City of Tampa to take down the existing 11,367-square foot building on site, and construct a new, 12,301-square-foot retail shell building where there currently is a Shapes health gym.

That’s roughly the size of both a CVS drug store, and the typical size of a Trader Joe’s grocery store. The plans call out a project name of “TJ-TAMPA,” and architectural renderings include a representative brand name “Tenant Sign” on the building, written in the same Tiki-style font that Trader Joe’s uses on its stores, Web sites and products.

The architect involved is Barry Byrd Architecture of Knoxville, Tenn. Reached by phone, Byrd acknowledged that he has designed several Trader Joe’s locations nationwide, and is working on a roughly 13,000-square foot retail site at 3808 W. Swann, but he declined to identify his client by name, citing a confidentiality agreement.

Other signs started emerging recently through the Dodge Reports clearinghouse company, where developers, realtors and builders regularly share information about projects as they unfold.

Thursday, Dodge officials updated those documents with the name “Trader Joe’s Company,” with construction potentially beginning in July. Meanwhile, staffers at the Shapes gym on that site said they weren’t aware of any plans to close down.

Officially, Trader Joe’s executives said they had no comment at this time.

City of Tampa officials said the building plans for the site only arrived on Tuesday, and staffers are reviewing them for comments – hopefully returning them to the developer by early next week.

Trader Joe’s has been somewhat active in picking new sites in Florida, with locations open in Sarasota, Naples and Gainesville and reports of others targeted for Winter Park and Pinecrest, just outside Miami. Adding Tampa to the mix would fill in a significant hole in the Florida landscape.

For the uninitiated, Trader Joe’s has a cult-like following. Among every single U.S. grocery store, Trader Joe’s had the highest “Net Promoter” score, as measured by Satmetrix. That score calculates how many people would recommend a given company to their friends.

As a grocer, Trader Joe’s stands out as a unique brand, stocking its stores primarily with food commissioned under its own brand, and almost entirely focuses on organic and holistic ingredients.

For instance, Trader Joe’s now sells a bag of “Inner Peas,” dried green pea pods that are “consciously crunchy and a little sweet (as peas tend to be), with just a hint of salt,” for $1.49 per bag.

Some stores are also now stocking a variety of Tuscan Cantaloupe, with its distinct green bands and far sweeter taste than typical cantaloupes for between $2.99 and $3.49 a pound, depending on the region. There’s also a 20-ounce bag of Korean-style short ribs that are “lean beef short ribs marinated in a slightly sweet, soy-based marinade.”

The store also keeps customers coming back by regularly cycling in and out much of the store’s inventory with new products at special prices. The so-called “Two-buck Chuck” wine is also a hallmark of the store.


rmullins@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7919 Twitter: @DailyDeadline

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