If convenience store competition in Northeast Florida were a poker game, the stakes are about to get raised. A big Texan is sitting down at the table.
Buc-ee’s, a Texas chain that is just expanding into Florida, plans a store and gas station on Interstate 95 near World Golf Village in St. Johns County. And the numbers are huge: A 52,600-square-foot store with 120 gas pumps.
You read that right: At 52,600 square feet, that’s a little bigger than a typical Publix or Winn-Dixie and eight or nine times the size of what Gate, Daily’s or Race Trac has been opening lately. The 120 gas pumps are about 100 more than most new stations.
“That’s enormous for a convenience store,” said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, “but it’s not all that big when you look at Buc-ee’s. Some have gone as big as 70,000 square feet.”
The pre-application filed with St. Johns County places the store on 13.71 vacant acres at the southwest quadrant of the International Golf Parkway and I-95, about 15 miles south of I-295. A county spokeswoman said that Buc-ee’s will need to file construction plans and have those approved before being issued a building permit.
Co-owner Arch “Beaver” Aplin said Thursday that he hopes to break ground during the first quarter of next year. Construction, he said, would take about a year. Last year, the chain announced that it was expanding outside of Texas for the first time, into Florida and Alabama. At the time, the first store in Florida was expected to be at I-95 and LPGA Boulevard in Daytona Beach, followed by Fort Myers.
But Aplin said the St. Johns store should be first now because the other locations have to work through some environmental issues. It will be the 37th or 38th in the chain, he said.
Many of the chain’s stores are typical convenience store size. But it’s been increasingly moving to the mammoth ones on interstates, which it has insisted are…