Westgate Publix to close May 1 for renovation

As reported in today’s Gainesville Sun, the Westgate Publix Shopping Center is set to begin a long awaited redevelopment near the University of Florida campus.   The project comes as a result of a collaborative effort between the development team and the City of Gainesville to bring forward a revitalized property which will include a more pedestrian-friendly design to serve the urban core.  eda provided a host of services associated with the design and permitting of the project, including civil engineering, land planning and surveying.

Gainesville, FL – Gainesville residents Kailey Gregson and C.J. Newlon were surprised to learn Monday that in less than two weeks the Publix store they normally shop at will close for demolition and reconstruction. “It’s a bummer because this one’s most convenient for us,” Newlon said.

Shoppers who frequent the Publix at Westgate Shopping Center, 125 SW 34th St., will have to purchase groceries elsewhere for a while. Store employees will be transferred to another location in Gainesville during construction, which will begin later in May and last for 12-18 months.

The shopping center was annexed into the city in 1961, said Andrew Persons, interim director of the city’s department of sustainable development. “This is one of the area’s oldest Publix stores that haven’t been renovated or reconstructed,” he said.

Recent updates to some other area Publix locations include new self-checkout kiosks.

During construction, the configuration of the store — which currently faces Southwest 34th Street — will be changed so that its front entrance will face West University Avenue. Truck and service access to the main building would be along the side of the building that faces Southwest Second Avenue.

In addition to a 49,000-square-foot Publix, four additional retail buildings also will be added to the shopping center.

Persons said the redevelopment will transform the center near the University of Florida campus from being automobile-focused to allowing more pedestrian and bicycle traffic. “There was a lot of thoughts that went into the perimeter of the site, with respect to the redevelopment,” he said. “We’ll be building out a network of sidewalks to bring people from the parking areas and the surrounding sidewalks directly to the storefronts. There was a lot of thought on how we can connect pedestrians to the facilities.”

Because of its proximity to the west side of UF, the Westgate Publix is the go-to stop for a lot of UF-affiliates, including Gregson, who works on campus, and Newlon, a UF student. “We normally try to come to Publix for our produce,” Gregson said. “We just try to stop here when we’re coming to and from campus.” They said they might have to go out of their way to shop at one of the Butler Enterprises locations off Archer Road while their favorite store is closed — which they’re not looking forward to, since those stores tend to be busy.

Gainesville resident Annette Kramer, perusing the cereal and granola aisle at the Westgate Publix on Monday, said she knew the store would be closing, though she didn’t know when. While construction’s underway, she plans to shop at the recently updated Millhopper Shopping Center, a little more than two miles away. She plans to return to Westgate once it’s back open. “I know it’s an older one,” she said. “Hopefully this one will be like the Millhopper one when it’s finished.”