September 16, 2011

BJ's, Golden Corral coming to Port Orange


PORT ORANGE -- The developer of the long-delayed Altamira Shopping Village project has finally landed a couple of anchor tenants and is expected to soon begin construction.

BJ's Wholesale Club, a membership warehouse club chain based in Westborough, Mass., has signed up to fill 86,000 square feet of space at the proposed 140,000-square-foot shopping center on Dunlawton Avenue, just east of Interstate 95, developer Robert Collett confirmed Thursday.

It will be the first BJ's store in the Volusia-Flagler area. Its nearest store is in Sanford.

"BJ's draws its demographics from a wide swath," said Collett, of Collett & Associates in Charlotte, N.C. "This will be a Daytona Beach (metro area) destination."

Construction on the main portion of the Altamira project could begin in January. The proposed shopping center already has one tenant: a CVS Pharmacy that opened earlier this year on an outparcel.

City planners are examining site plans for the planned BJ's store, as well as a proposed 12,000-square-foot Golden Corral buffet and grill restaurant that also would be part of Altamira. The restaurant would be on a corner outparcel next to the CVS store, senior planner Tim Burman said.

Plans for a three-unit retail building on the other side of the CVS also are being evaluated by the city.

Collett and development partner Sooner Investments of Oklahoma City have been planning Altamira Shopping Village since early 2004, long before both nearby The Pavilion at Port Orange shopping center, which opened in March 2010, and Kohl's department store, which opened in the Westport Square Shopping Center in October 2008.

Besides dealing with the economic downturn, Collett and partners have the challenge of relocating a mosquito control ditch and building the Yorktowne Road extension south of Dunlawton Avenue and behind the shopping center. Those negotiations took years.


But, now, there is a pending rezoning and master development agreement, which outlines who is to pay for the road and ditch. That agreement could be approved before December.

"We've been squeezed and I hope we can get an award for staying power," Collett said. "We hope to have the pad ready for BJ's by the summer. The store might open for Thanksgiving 2012."

"It's a great location with good visibility, access and traffic," Collett said. "We are excited to be able to bring in tenants that are not covered elsewhere in the area."

BJ's, a Fortune 500 company whose common stock shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, operates 190 warehouse club stores in 15 states from Maine to Florida. The Port Orange store would be its 29th in this state.

The chain opened a 120,000-square-foot store this week in Northborough, Mass., with 178 employees.

Household and business memberships at BJ's start at $50.

The Golden Corral would be the chain's second in the Volusia-Flagler area. The chain's Palm Coast eatery has about 76 employees, a manager at that location said. Golden Corral has 500 restaurants across the country, including 54 in Florida.

"The Port Orange area has been underserved from national and regional chains for some years," said Charles Lichtigman, part-owner of a commercial property next to Altamira Shopping Village.

"It's taken a while to catch up to the growing area," said Lichtigman, CEO of Charles Wayne Properties in Daytona Beach. "But, activity begets activity, and we're happy to see BJ's coming in."