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St. Pete’s first Whole Foods Market to go vertical

Veronica Brezina



A rendering of the upcoming Whole Foods. Image provided by J Square Developers.

After eight months of underground work with only a mound of concrete and dirt visible at the site, vertical construction can now begin for St. Pete’s first-ever Whole Foods Market. 

Development partners St. Petersburg-based J Square Developers and Atlanta-based SJC Ventures are building the new 40,000-square-foot grocery store at 201 38th Ave. North., home of the former Sunshine Plaza strip mall. 

The Sunshine Plaza formerly housed Suncoast Fitness, Dollar General, Sun Country Cleaners and a Kahwa Coffee drive-thru. The demolition of the plaza started in December 2021.

The site at 201 38th Ave. North. as of October 2022. Photo by Veronica Brezina.

“The underground utilities and infrastructure are very complicated from a construction point of view. We are building a single grocery store and there is a culvert that runs in the middle of the property when the old shopping center was created,” Jay Miller, CEO of J Square Developers, said to the St. Pete Catalyst.

“Most of the work we’ve done to date was the relocation of the underground storm pipe. It became more challenging when we had heavier-than-anticipated rainfall in September. We finished the reconstruction of the pipe two weeks ago,” Miller said. Hurricane Ian added a weeklong delay but did not cause major damage. 

Miller received the construction permit this week, allowing him to proceed with vertical construction. 

He expects to hand the keys over to Whole Foods Market in March, which is when the grocer will start its interior buildout.  

“It took years of talking with Whole Foods. They looked at the site four years ago and were against moving forward with the project at that time, but then they looked at it again in 2020 and decided to move forward with it, and we were able to negotiate acceptable terms and start on the plans,” Miller said. 

The Whole Foods Market will sit across from Publix Super Market at Northeast Park Shopping Center, which is near the Publix Super Market at 4th Street Station – and a mere few blocks south, there is a Fresh Market. Wild Fork, a meat and seafood market, is planning to open a storefront on 4th Street as well. 

Miller said the 4th Street corridor is continuously gaining traction and attention from retailers as its proven to be a successful market. 

“The 4th Street corridor has good demographics and it’s in a convenient area that draws from affluent neighborhoods and the middle class,” he said. “Retailers love to be in a block. It may seem counterintuitive, but they want to be near competitors and where customers go for products.” 

Nearby is a Trader Joe’s, which Miller developed and opened in 2015 – becoming the first and only Trader Joe’s in the city.

Miller and his team are also building a drive-thru Starbucks on 4th Street North, which is currently underway. The coffee shop will be handed to Starbucks by the end of January and would likely open in the spring. 

There will be three main access points to the Whole Foods Market: One will be located along 38th Avenue N. to the east of where there’s a gas station. The other alternative is at the traffic light on 3rd Street, leading to two plaza entrances.

In speaking about other areas that may see a retail boom, Miller said he anticipates seeing more activity in the Skyway Marina District and the Tyrone area. 

“Pinellas County is very dense and the most activity occurring involves redevelopment. Retailers are looking to reposition themselves in a new redeveloped center,” he said. 

Meanwhile, South St. Pete continues to be designated as a food desert and the shuttered Tangerine Plaza remains empty. 

“In my opinion, it’s difficult to attract another grocer there because of its history,” Miller said, noting the previous grocers that did not succeed at Tangerine Plaza. “A better approach would be to have a smaller grocer, a unique operator and find a way to provide transportation there.” 

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  1. Avatar

    jill abrams

    November 17, 2023at12:48 pm

    The parking lot looks so small

  2. Avatar

    Carol Parker

    July 4, 2023at4:59 pm

    Re tangerine plaza.
    To much theft, every store tried, but profits were non existent due to the enormous amount of people stealing, even when asked to leave large bags at front of store , items were shoved in clothing etc etc.
    I’m sorry but they bought this on themselves, life is not always a bed of roses

  3. Avatar

    Kate McGee

    November 7, 2022at10:38 am

    I’m thrilled! Just what I wanted. But, how about getting a Barnes and Noble Bookstore nearby?? That’s heaven. Then they it attracts more upscale restaurants to build, maybe some cool upscale…expanding in that whole neighborhood. Add a “Premium Outlet Shopping “.. that would fill in a lot of empty space in that area. Then follow up with apartment buildings… tadah! A super cool decent neighborhood. I will drive there… 15 mins. Easy.

  4. Avatar

    Reggie Jackson'

    November 6, 2022at5:59 pm

    Piggly wiggly

  5. Avatar

    Frank "Rowdy" Poncherini

    November 6, 2022at10:49 am

    Don’t really look forward to the traffic for a pricey store that I will likely never visit. I do get it as Snell Isle/Coffeepot/Old NE have plenty of rich folks who will love a store where they don’t have to rub shoulders with the untouchables but I would have preferred an Aldi. I miss having Dollar General close by as well.

  6. Avatar

    Bob Mattiko

    November 6, 2022at7:44 am

    How can we encourage the developer or Whole Foods to use native plants for landscaping at this location?

  7. Avatar

    Patrick Timmel

    November 6, 2022at7:07 am

    Dave Johnson there is a food desert on the Southside because too many of the employees and customers were thieves who drove two grocery stores out of business instead of continuing to being able to stay and serve the community in a store built for the residents of that food desert with taxpayer money. Selfish, evil, violent thug culture has ruined black communities in St. Petersburg and urban centers around the nation. Good luck attracting another store.

  8. Avatar

    Rene A

    November 6, 2022at5:28 am

    When Walmart was in the Tangerine Plaza the people in the neighborhood shoplifted so much they weren’t making a profit is what I was told. Sorry not sorry but it’s not hard for me to believe that. I was born and raised in South St. Pete, live in Gulfport now and I hate going to the area of South St. Pete.

  9. Avatar


    November 5, 2022at9:52 pm

    So much congestion in an area that should not have this store.. Crazy spot for this. Not good.

  10. Avatar

    Shirley Hayes

    November 5, 2022at7:07 pm

    34th Street South is well supplied with grocery stores. Midtown does not have any grocery stores, 26th Ave So to 1st Ave No from 34th Street to 4th Street needs grocery stores. 4th Street to 16th Street South and 26th Ave to 62nd Ave South need a grocery store.

  11. Avatar


    November 5, 2022at8:45 am

    Really miss living close to the Whole Foods in Clearwater. So happy..their Organic section amazing & seafood /meat
    Hoping they have a serving bar as well
    Where we can have a drink and a bite prior or during shopping.
    I thought their prices would be terrible but learned differently.
    Sorry about the food store issues in S. Pete…hoping that gets resolved soon

  12. Avatar

    Angela Wilson

    November 5, 2022at7:55 am

    I would like to understand why the previous grocery stores were not successful in Tangerine Plaza and why all the many acres of land available on 34th St. South would not be attractive to a major Grocer like Kroger’s, Safeway, Detweilers, Whole Food Market, Farmer Jacks, etc.

  13. Avatar

    Loretta Monroe Calvin

    November 4, 2022at7:58 pm


  14. Avatar

    Dianne Osburn

    November 4, 2022at7:26 pm

    Would love to see a grocery store on the south side near Coquina Key plaza. I really miss getting to a grocery store if I missed something from another store.

  15. Avatar

    Daniel Zumbro

    November 4, 2022at4:46 pm

    I would so love to have seen a Detweilers Market in the area.

  16. Avatar

    Georgia Earp

    November 4, 2022at4:41 pm

    I thought the same thing. Thanks for bringing it up!

  17. Avatar

    Steven Morrison

    November 4, 2022at4:16 pm

    The City owns a grocery store building (currently vacant) as part of Tangerine Plaza on the Southside. How about a City-run model with some new employment for Southside CRA residents? “St. Pete City Market” would provide relief in this food desert, with stable employment and healthy food and fresh produce for surrounding residents. Will it need a City subsidy to keep going? Maybe, but the City runs Sunken Gardens and the Coliseum so managing a facility is not unheard of. And there is some current discussion about the City running the Manhattan Casino. FYI, City parks and many other services don’t bring in revenue for the City but are funded as essential operations. Why isn’t ensuring access to healthy food for residents of the City considered as essential?

  18. Avatar

    David Johnson

    November 4, 2022at3:07 pm

    Ten grocery stores in one area and none on the south side…

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