For Hometown News
PORT ST. LUCIE -- Nationally renowned retailer Bass Pro Shops is one step closer to opening a store in the city after a two-year effort to bring the popular outdoor store to the area.
Bass Pro Shops is a leading retailer of fishing, boating, camping and hunting equipment with 10 locations in Florida.
The location for the Port St. Lucie store will be at the southeast corner of I-95 and Gatlin Boulevard, where a new unoccupied structure was built recently by Kohl's department store. Kohl's never opened on the site, which also includes a Home Depot.
The company has begun the approval process to open in the former Kohl's building, filing with the city for review of zoning and other requirements.
Because the location already is a retail site, serious impediments to approval are not expected.
Mayor JoAnn M. Faiella began discussions with the company two years ago, informing them of the many assets in Port St. Lucie that would ensure a successful business venture in the city.
"I knew they were the right fit for us because we are such an outdoor-loving community with some of the best fishing anywhere," said Ms. Faiella. "We are all about boats, fishing, camping and nature activities and my task was simply to convince them of it. Once they came and saw for themselves, they knew they had a special place that has everything they could ask for and more."
Ms. Faiella took representatives of the company to various places in the city and showed them the former Digital Domain building, now called Tradition Studios. However, she knew the site they ultimately selected offered the most possibility.
"With a prominent location alongside I-95 in Florida's ninth largest city, within an hour's drive to more than 1 million people in one of the world's premiere boating and fishing locations, and with a brand-new, 100,000-square-foot store waiting empty for them outside a Home Depot, this is as promising an opportunity as there can be for an outdoor store like Bass Pro Shops," the mayor said.
She said recruiting the company to Port St. Lucie is a win-win situation not only for Bass Pro Shops, but for Kohl's, the city's tax base, citizens and outdoor enthusiasts, as well.
The first benefit is that an empty building at a main entrance to the city will not sit vacant anymore and will be retrofitted with Bass Pro Shops' attractive design.
Once the company's application for approval passes a site plan review committee and the planning and zoning board, the full city council will be presented with the final plan. A date for that hearing has not been set, but if no major obstacles are encountered the new store is projected to open late this year.
Bass Pro Shops' outdoor stores combine retail with entertainment, conservation and outdoor education. The new store also will offer equipment and clothing for hiking, backpacking, wildlife viewing, camping, outdoor cooking and a gift and nature center will feature a variety of outdoor-related furniture.