Wawa eyes Cortez Commons site

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BROOKSVILLE — The convenience store with the funny name that is proliferating throughout the Tampa Bay region is coming to Hernando County.

Wawa has submitted site and building plans to the county for a location in the new Cortez Commons shopping center at the southwest corner of State Road 50 and Mariner Boulevard. The project must undergo reviews by county staffers and inspectors. Barring any problems, the first Wawa could open in early 2015.

Ever since the Philadelphia-based chain started its countywide expansion in West Central Florida, there have been rumors of possible Wawa locations.

Various reports have placed the convenience store-gas station chain everywhere from State Road 50 and Fort Dade Avenue to U.S. 41 and Powell Road. And last year Wawa had approached the county about a site at the southeast corner of Spring Hill Drive and Anderson Snow Road, across from a Publix supermarket.

Wawa officials went so far as to attend a county pre-application meeting about that site, the first step in the process during which a business looks at roads, utilities and other infrastructure on a site.

But with the submission of a building plan, Wawa has committed to Cortez Commons, one of the hottest retail corners in Hernando County. The county will meet with Wawa during its code compliance meeting Sept. 18.

Wawa has more than 645 convenience stores — 365 of them sell gasoline — in six states, including Florida. The stores sell hoagies, coffee, dairy products, breakfast sandwiches, salads and other products, the chain’s website says.

Wawa, which is a Native American name for the Canada goose, has more than 22,000 employees nationwide.

Cortez Commons will be home to various chain restaurants and stores, including Chili’s Grill & Bar, Mattress Firm, Vitamin, Bonefish Grill, Hobby Lobby and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

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In related news:

♦ A Wendy’s restaurant at 12929, just west of the Mariner-State Road 50 intersection, has submitted a site and building review. Several of the chain sites, including one at Barclay Road and Spring Hill Drive, have been renovated and sport the chain’s new look.

♦ Papa Joe’s Restaurant, destroyed by fire in January, also submitted building plans. The eatery plans to build at the same location at 6244 Spring Lake Highway.


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