By Kelli Jo Hull
For Hometown News
Commercial construction in Port Orange is flourishing and now includes several plans to tear down an existing building and construct a new one.
Wawa, a privately owned chain of more than 600 convenience retail stores, is in the process of building a nearly 6,000 square-foot store with 16 gas pumps on Dunlawton Avenue. But first it must demolish the former Joy Luck Chinese restaurant building, just west of Nova Road.
Wawa, which originated in Folsom, Pa., in 1964, has stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida. With four stores in the Orlando area, they are expanding in Central Florida with 11 stores scheduled to open this year. Fourteen additional stores will be opening in other parts of Florida as well.
Wawa has become successful by differentiating their brand from other convenience stores by offering fresh made to order hoagies, sandwiches and smoothies, and also selling their own private label coffees. Touch screens are used in the stores for customers to place their food orders.
According to Amy McCook, director of development for Equinox Development, Wawa's developer, demolition of the former Chinese restaurant will begin by the end of the month with Wawa hoping to open the new store in July 2015.
The Circle K convenience store at the southeast corner of Nova and Spruce Creek Road will get torn down and rebuilt. The new building will more than quadruple the size of the store's square footage and increase the number of gas pumps from eight to 10.
Currently the Circle K building sits in the middle of the property. According to Port Orange City Planner Gwen Perney, the new building will be relocated to the east side of the property with the gas pumps moving to the center, providing better traffic flow for customers. Also, the intent is to refresh the site with new landscaping, she said.
Port Orange's Site Development Review Committee provided Circle K's representatives comments regarding the proposed project plan at their May 14 meeting. Circle K has 60 days to resubmit. When the project is approved, Circle K hopes to move forward with demolition in mid-July and is looking at a four- to five-month construction timeframe, Ms. Perney said.
Also doing a teardown and rebuild is the McDonald's at the southwest corner of Dunlawton and Nova. The owner will construct a nearly 1,000-square-foot larger restaurant. Franchise owner David Potochnik said the 28-year-old building needed updating and modernizing. Determining what approach to take has been in the planning for four years, he said.
Rebuilding allows for maintenance efficiencies within the building as well as enhancements to the operation, Mr. Potochnik said. A side-by-side double drive through, new digital menu boards, improved operating equipment and changes to the store layout are among the improvements to the facility, he said.
The city's Site Development Review Committee suggested some slight modifications to the original plans, Mr. Potochnik said. Once final approval is received from the city, the existing McDonald's will close around July 1 with construction taking between 53 and 72 days for the new building, he said.
Expanding the current facility, AutoZone, on the west side of Nova, north of Dunlawton, will be adding more than 8,000 square feet to the existing building. According to Ray Pohlman, vice president of AutoZone, the additional space will be at the back of the store and will be used to warehouse a larger parts inventory.
The loyalty of area customers is the reason for expansion, Mr. Pohlman said. Citing improved customer service by eliminating the need to order and wait for parts, the additional investment in the facility is a way to thank customers for their business, he said.
Still in the permitting stage, the construction timeline for the AutoZone addition is unknown. The store will remain open, however, during the project, Mr. Pohlman said.
Port Orange Senior Planner Tim Burman feels the new construction activity is positive for the city. "I think it's very encouraging that we are getting development and redevelopment on the eastside of town. It's good news that businesses are staying in their locations and improving their properties," he said.