Walmart could soon open grocery store in Midtown

5:33 PM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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In a deal with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Walmart has agreed to pay a $190,000 fine because of safety violations at a store in New York. The retailer also will correct similar hazards at Walmart and Sam's Club stores nationwide. (Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP)
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St. Petersburg, FL - Midtown residents may soon have a grocery store again.

Signs point to Walmart opening a Neighborhood Market in the former Sweetbay store located at Tangerine Plaza off 22nd Street South.

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"Something will be coming," Mayor Bill Foster told 10 News on Thursday.  But Foster said he could not say much else.

"I can't comment on the specifics, what I can say is that we've been working with the landlord and some great community partners to bring a major retailer to the Midtown community."

10 News, however, has obtained a copy of a 4-month lease agreement Walmart has signed to open a hiring center just six blocks from the former Sweetbay store. The lease, which begins September 1st, says the center will be for interviewing and screening job applicants, presumably for a new store.

A Walmart spokesperson wouldn't confirm that the retailer will soon be opening a grocery store in Midtown only saying, "While we have no plans to announce regarding a store in St. Petersburg, we are always evaluating new opportunities to bring jobs and new, affordable shopping options to Florida communities."

Sweetbay closed its Midtown store in February and city leaders have said finding a replacement grocer is vital to the redevelopment of Midtown.

Councilman Wengay Newton told 10 News on Thursday he's heard rumors in recent weeks about a Walmart store coming and is excited about the prospects.

"The buzz I've been hearing and the stuff that I know, I would say it's going to happen. I would say its almost a sure bet," Newton said.

He added a grocery store in the South St. Petersburg neighborhood is badly needed since Sweetbay closed.

"The people who live around that food desert are really struggling to find a way to go out and find fresh fruits and vegetables."

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