New Walmart Set to Open Next Week

Spring is in the air, can’t you smell it? Flowers are getting ready to boom, the weather is warming (wait, did it ever cool off?) and there is a new Walmart opening in Panama City Beach. Nope, they aren’t replacing the old Walmart, this will be in addition to the other Walmart, colloquially referred to as “The Beach Walmart.”

I swear I had found some article substantiating a claim that the Beach Walmart was the highest in volume sales nationally for Walmart Corp, but I can’t find it now, so maybe that was all a dream. But, General Manager Jennifer Ross (the Beach Walmart’s former GM and the new GM at the Pier Park Walmart) mentioned that possibly the claim I was referring to was total in beer and liquor volume sales.

Last week I had the opportunity to tour the new Walmart with Store Manager Jennifer Ross.  A firm opening date will be announced this week, but Ross expects they’ll be ready to open next week.

Let’s talk about what’s different.

The big question everyone has had about this new Walmart is what the difference is between it and the existing Walmart. With the existing Walmart ringing in at around 220,000 square feet, the new Walmart is about 70% of that size, just over 156,000 square feet. Naturally, one would think the new Walmart is smaller than the other one, offering less of a selection, but there are a few things that the new Walmart doesn’t have that accounts for that lost square footage.

One huge component the new Walmart doesn’t have, that accounts for a large amount of the square footage difference is the Tire and Lube center. Additionally, there is almost no tenant space in the new Walmart, with the exception of a Subway and Airbrush. The Beach Walmart has an Eye Center, Nail Salon and other tenant space at the front of the store.

Walking around the inside of the store, it really feels every bit as large as the other Beach Walmart.

Other things that are new to this Walmart.

One of the things I love about the new Walmart is that they kept the exterior design completely consistent with that of Pier Park.  We’d been seeing signs of this all along, but it was something, as a community, I’ve heard concern of.

  • Implementation of sustainability features, including
    • Freezer motion sensor lights
    • Cycling overhead lights
    • Energy efficient refrigeration
    • Concrete floors
    • Recycled composite counters that look like granite
  • All touch-screen registers
  • Bull-pen style self check-out with 8 registers
  • Drive-through pharmacy
  • A/C ducts for Outdoor Center cashiers
  • Big Ass Fans in Outdoor Center (you’ll just have to go see them, that’s really their name)

Right now they’re looking to hire about 50 more people for the season claiming they’ll employ about 250 people seasonally and 250 people normally the rest of the year.

Economically, this is pretty huge. This one installment literally added over 200 jobs locally and will definitely supplement the city’s tax revenue bucket offing a diversified shopping opportunity for travelers on the west end of Panama City Beach.

Photos

Will the New Walmart be a Super Walmart? [Construction Update]

The new Walmart next to Pier Park in Panama City Beach is taking serious shape. Having been under construction for mere months, you can absolutely see the beginning signs of just what type of Walmart this is going to be.

I’m not one to ignite or fuel rumor-mill, but its been going around that this will indeed be a Super Walmart. I’ve found nothing official to note this but as the building shell is complete, it sure looks that it will indeed be a Super Walmart.

Is this a Super Walmart?

In South Walton, there is a Walmart neighborhood store. Think Walmart, only on a miniature scale. They have a lot of the things normal Walmarts have, but not as much, and there is grocery.

Original speculation discussed the new Walmart as being a neighborhood store as pundits insisted Walmart couldn’t justify two equally competitive stores in the same tax area. Plus the submitted plans specify that the new store is indeed smaller than the original Panama City Beach Walmart.

However, in the last couple weeks the store structure has taken enough shape to offer more clear speculation on what we can expect at this new Walmart.

Mayor Gayle Oberst has been known to say, “Panama City Beach, the only town with a population of 12,000 that has two super Walmarts.”

The photo evidence.

This first photo, taken from the front, closest to Pier Park clearly shows two entrances.  The smaller, neighborhood stores only offer one entrance.

The second photo is taken from the front on the side furthest from Pier Park. From this view you can clearly see the large bay openings found in their lube centers for servicing vehicles.

Here are a variety of other shots to give you an idea of the progress. I’d say barring any weather issues, they’re still on schedule.

This shot is a closer look at the lube bay where they can service cars.  It’s hard to tell at this point, but it looks as though the automobiles would come in from the left, entering on the wall that is facing to the left of the image.

This is a shot from the inside taken towards the south west.  I didn’t get permission for this and sort of snuck up there – hope I don’t get in trouble!  You can’t really see anything here short of the vastness of the inside of this new Walmart in Panama City Beach.

This is taken facing the southwest and shows the easterly-most entrance.

This is another view of the lube bay area, across the stormwater retention pond.

This shot was taken from the southwest (facing northeast) side of the building.  There is a large solid concreate area, I assume would be for staging semi delivery trucks.  I believe there are four bays for tractor trailers.

New Walmart Construction Update 1

The new Walmart going in next to Pier Park is heavy underway and great progress can be seen on daily basis.  If you remember the parcel where Walmart will be, you’ll probably remember it was largely vacant but bordered with tree cover.  The tree cover was heavy enough so that you couldn’t really see around the corner at the Powell Adams and Back Beach Road intersection.  Well, not so now!

I’ll be the first to admit, the construction of a new Walmart in Panama City Beach isn’t exactly a riveting sight to be seen.  It’s sort of like watching grass grow during the early phases since a lot of the work being done for the first half of the construction tenure is ground work.  But as things start moving, we’ll show you more pix – and we hope that as we follow the timeline, the progress will seem at least a little interesting.  😉

Aerial Google Map of what it was.

This was captured today and shows an image of what the property looked like before any construction was begun.  The parking lot in the upper left corner belongs to Target, the neighborhood on the right of the image is Summerwood with Palmetto Trace being right across the street (Back Beach Road) from there.

Taken from the NE, looking SW

This image was taken from the south side of Back Beach Road, looking towards the south (technically), but facing a little west.  The condo on the right in the image is Calypso with Aqua on the left.  You can see a little smidge of Target on the far right middle of the image.  This picture is likely looking over where an outparcel will be.

Looking at NW corner of the Walmart parcel

This image was taken to show how clearly you can now see around this corner.  Before there was heavy tree covering hear and it was difficult to see around the corner.  Now you can see straight across.  I’m not one for cutting down a bunch of trees, but it is nice to be able to see through this intersection much more clearly now.

Another view of the NW corner of the Walmart parcel

This view shows you how clear that corner is now.  When construction is complete, this particular intersection will be signalized and should be much safer than it now is.

View from the NW looking SE

In this image, we’re looking from the NW corner of the Walmart parcel next to Pier Park.  The image is facing the southeast.  The building you see in the very middle (next to the truck) is Legacy by the Sea, the you have Origin at Seahaven, Sunrise Beach then Emerald Beach Resort.  You can see the vastness of the property in this image and just how much land has been cleared.  We are likely looking over an outparcel in this shot.

The widened view down Powell Adams

 

As discussed, along with a new Walmart, Panama City Beach is getting an advanced treatment to Powell Adams Road that the CRA wouldn’t be able to perform for years.  We’ll have an update on the completion of the South Thomas Drive CRA in a couple days, which will give you an idea of how this stretch of road will look and feel.  For someone who just traveled the newly improved South Thomas Drive yesterday, we’ll be in for a real treat here.  This shot shows the preparation for making the widening provisions.

 Construction entrance to the project

Maybe this is the norm nowadays, but I thought this was particularly cool.  They have a “zone” where exiting vehicles are washed while resting on a bed of large rocks to help minimize the amount of soil that exits the property and is deposited on the roadways.

Looking NE from the SW

This shot looks form the southwest looking towards the northeast.  The water was actually from the legacy pond that has been formed over the years this property sat vacant.  I’m not sure whether this will be used as a retention pond or if it will be filled in.  This is the back part of the parcel.

 

New Walmart Starts Construction

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

The new Walmart being installed next to Pier Park has begun construction as of yesterday.  Located right next door to Target, across from Powell Adams Road, an official “designation” is still unclear, but it’s certain to have grocery.  We recently discussed the site plans that were clear that it would not only include grocery, but a full bakery section, deli (with display coolers), fresh produce, garden center, and other general areas you’d expect to find in a Walmart.

We do know that this Walmart will be 156,000 square feet, which is 70% of the size of the Super Walmart to the east of this one.

What they’ll be doing first.

In preparation for the general construction, they’ve got to level out the land and get everything ready for the giant slab that we’ll walk on as we shop for the next umpteen years.  If you remember, there is a huge sand hill that’s been there for years, capturing the tires of renegade wannabe off-roaders that have bravely attempted to traverse it’s heights.  Yes, even my own brother got stuck in that hill, before he had four wheel drive.

They’ll be putting up perimeter fencing to help protect our eyes from the menacing construction equipment and keep the kids out and installing a central construction trailer to manage day to day operations.

Construction timeline and property details.

At this point, the construction timeline is still projected to be right at 12 months.  I would think they would want to get this done by next spring season, or at the latest, next summer season.  We’ll keep an eye on things as it progresses.

There will be out parcels along Panama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road), three entry points on Powell Adams Road and one entry point on Back Beach Road.

Powell Adams Road improvements.

One of the more controversial elements to this development, interestingly enough, has been the improvements to Powell Adams Road.  Many of the Walmart Opposition Party have contended that if something goes in that requires improvements to the road, they should have to pay for it, not the taxpayer.

Powell Adams Road is on the schedule for the CRA improvement treatment plan in the next couple years, and the Walmart development has put these improvements on the fast track.  The cool thing about this is that the City was going to fund this entirely, originally, and it wasn’t going to happen for at least 2 more years.  But, since Walmart is coming, and the improvements are needed in order to meet the requirements that will come with the increased traffic, Walmart is partially funding this improvement project.

The improvements will be on Powell Adams Road and go back to LC Hilton Drive (the road you can take to Miracle Strip and the center round about.

Why Walmart paying just a portion is more than fair.

The way this was explained to me was that Walmart is paying for the improvements that they would need and the City is paying for the improvements that are above and beyond that which would bring them up to the CRA standards (think curbs, sidewalks, decorative street lighting, and landscaping).

You see, if Walmart put in the baseline improvements that were needed in order to accomodate the traffic increase that would come with it’s development, we’d get signalization and a wider road out of the deal, at no cost.  But the beautification that comes with the CRA treatment would not happen, and the potential cost down the road when the City got to this portion of the improvement schedule would be proportionally higher.

BUT, by just “charging” Walmart the cost is would be for the improvements they need to make, and the City paying for the other improvement elements that come with the normal CRA improvements, we save money (because we’re not paying for the baseline improvements) and we get the beautification much earlier than expected (literally by years).

So, in my eyes, it’s a win-win.  What do you think? Comment below. 😉