Wawa plans store, gas station at Bradenton's Aloha Estates

cschelle@bradenton.comMarch 18, 2014 

MANATEE -- Looks like Bradenton will be home to a gaggle of Wawas.

Wawa has filed plans to open a 6,119-square-foot convenience store and gas station on part of the Aloha Estates mobile home park, 5310 14th St. W., marking the third Wawa in the works in Manatee.

Wawa, undergoing its Florida expansion, already has approvals to build the same size store at 701 First St. E. and a 5,636-square-foot store at 4455 State Road 64 E. Construction on both of those stores are expected to start this year.

The privately held chain was founded in Wawa, Pa., and is known for its quality food as much as its low gas prices. Wawa, which is a Native American word for flying goose, features a wide selection of freshly brewed coffee and prepared and made-to-order hoagies. Most Wawas are open 24 hours 365 days a year.

Wawa will only affect the portion of the property along 14th Street, said Manuel Aldana, a manager at Aloha Estates. Residents will be given a letter notifying them to vacate a month in advance. Only three people are renting in the area Wawa would be built on, he said.

The park is owned by Dorothy and Jay Buikema of Naperville, Ill., and is managed by Newby Management in Ellenton. The gas station will use up 2.6 acres at U.S. 41 and 53rd Avenue of the 6-acre mobile home park, according to plans filed with the county. It also is applying to rezone that portion to allow that gas

station. A public hearing would be required for the rezoning to general commercial, according to county documents. The gas station will feature 16 pumps on eight islands and seven outdoor tables for eating, according to the site plan by Tampa-based Thom Engineering.

Overall, about 89 trailers are rented at the park, Aldana said. Aldana, unfamiliar with Wawa, is happy the area will see a change.

"It will definitely improve," he said.

The corner of 14th Street and 53rd Avenue has undergone its share of redevelopment over the past two years. The Autonation Ford dealership was remodeled, a new Dunkin Donuts sprouted up, the Shell gas station has been remodeled, Stan Thompson Auto Sales has built a new dealership and a new strip mall called Woodland Plaza is being built that will feature a new Starbucks.

Wawa has more than 570 convenience stores, 200 of which sell gas, and are typically found in the mid-Atlantic. Its first stores in Florida came in July 2012 around Orlando, and later opened additional stores in Tampa Bay, bringing the total to about 17 in Florida, with 18 more expected to open by the end of 2014 in Tampa and 21 more in Central Florida by the end of next year, according to the company.

Rob Wenzel, development review coordinator, said he has not had a chance to review the plans, and staff comments are not due until April 2. The gas station itself can be administratively approved without going in front of the county commissioners.

A request for comment from Wawa and Aloha Estates realty management Newby Management was not returned by deadline Monday.

Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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