Publix Goes for Expansion Allowed by New Code Changes


By Mike Lednovich

Just days after the city commission voted to change the City Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code to allow for unlimited sized shopping centers, Publix announced it will demolish its current building and construct a larger grocery store.

According to the City Planning Department, both the city and the St. Johns River Water Management District are reviewing an application for Publix to replace the store at 1421 Sadler Road with a 58,834-square-foot version.

According to the city planning department, under the previous provisions of the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code, Publix was prohibited from expanding because of the total square foot area of the shopping center on Sadler Road. City records list the existing shopping center as 213,656 square feet.

“Publix was linked to the overall size of the shopping center, which is more than 80,000 square feet. Under the old code, buildings in those shopping centers were not allowed to expand in size,” said City Planner Daphne Forehand.

Last Tuesday, the City Commission approved, by a 4-1 vote, changes to large-scale projects like shopping centers. One of the changes is to allow existing buildings to expand by 15% of their current size. The other change for new projects limits the size of individual buildings within shopping centers to 55,000 square feet. But the changes do not limit the overall size of shopping centers.

The new code reads:

“If a single business in a nonconforming commercial property exceeds the 55,000 square feet allowance, they can expand their existing structure once, up to 15% of the current gross floor area.

“This expansion applies to properties undergoing redevelopment, including demolition and rebuilding. Any future redevelopment of the same structure is restricted to the previous one-time expansion, regardless of whether the expansion used the full 15% limit. These limitations ensure controlled development and prevent multiple expansions without constraint.”

According to the city, the existing Publix is 57,086 square feet. Under the new rules of 15%, Publix could add another 8,562 square feet of floor space. However, Publix has applied for only a 1,748-square-foot increase to the new building.

Publix is located in the 36-year-old Island Walk Shopping Center. Plans also call for the resurfacing of the existing parking lot.

The proposed expansion was presented to the city’s Technical review Committee (TRC) on July 27, four days prior to the city commission approving the new building 15% expansion revisions.

City Planner Forehand said the next steps for the Publix project is another review of the plans by the TRC. Once approved by the TRC, the city would then issue a local development order that would allow contractors to begin the permitting process for the new Publix.

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10 months ago

It could be the only store at that spot

Jason Collins
Noble Member
Jason Collins(@jc18holes)
10 months ago

Larger and improved Publix! This is why the City voted 4-1 to pass those much needed changes! Kuddos Commissioner!

Bill Fold
Noble Member
Bill Fold(@bill-fold)
10 months ago
Reply to  Jason Collins

And in the meantime a lot of residents on Amelia Island will be out of a grocery store for who knows how long. Not everybody likes Winn Dixie or Haris Teeter. The real silly part is how is 1,748 more square feet going to be any improvement to what’s already there? Oh wait it would create more room for the cool aid the commissioners and the rest of the idiots drink that think this is a good idea. SMH!

Betsie Huben
Famed Member
Betsie Huben(@betsie-huben)
10 months ago

Renovations (a la Winn Dixie) are always welcome. The original ordinance came to be in an effort to prevent a Super Walmart. It was a good idea back in the day. It still is. Amelia is still a barrier island. Amelia still has finite boundaries and capacities. Better with less impervious surfaces than more. 

Noble Member
10 months ago
Reply to  Betsie Huben

Actually, the super Walmart in Yulee is in a great location, I am not sure why they would want to build another one in Fernandina. And also having a Chick-Filet right next store is a bonus.