The likelihood of a transformation at the old Sweetbay isn’t the only new thing coming to New Tampa.

In fact, The Walk at Highwoods Preserve area located right across the street Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. from the former Sweetbay may be a busy corner in the coming new year.

The busy area already has added three new restaurants — Oronzo Honest Italian (see story on pages 26-27), Michi Ramen and Gu Wei — and an F45 Fitness center this year. It also has seen big box electronics giant Best Buy and home furnishings chain Pier 1 Imports close up shop, potentially giving way to future new tenants.

And, additional Highwoods Preserve Pkwy. businesses — the former Starbucks and Jimmy John’s sub shop — are being prepped for new tenants.

And yes, construction has finally begun on the new Aldi grocery store on the southwest corner of Highwoods Preserve Pkwy. and BBD.

On Nov. 23, crews began tearing down the old Ruby Tuesday restaurant. By Thanksgiving, the 2.36-acre lot, purchased by Leon Capital Group in 2018 for $2.82 million, was mainly home to a mangled mess of metal and concrete.

The Aldi was approved back in January. It will be 19,160 square feet — almost four times the size of Ruby Tuesday — with 106 parking spaces.

Developers of the popular German discount chain also are adding a sidewalk for pedestrians and those who use the bus stop at the same corner. 

There is still no word about when, or if, the once-planned $5-million renovation of the AMC Theater at Highwoods Preserve is happening. 

Unfortunately, the movie industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In October, AMC warned investors that it could run out of cash by the end of the year. Around the same time, Regal Cinemas shut down all its theaters.

FOR WHOM THE (TACO)BELL TOLLS: Well, it’s official — according to City of Tampa permitting records, the Circle K at the corner of  Doña Michelle Dr. and BBD is expanding, and that expansion will eliminate the Taco Bell and Shell-branded gas station currently attached to it.

Circle K Stores, Inc., which had a pre-application consultation in August looking to redevelop the existing Shell gas station to become a larger Circle K gas station, is going ahead with those plans.

A site plan submitted Nov. 24 shows the current convenience store expanding to a 5,187-sq.-ft. store.

The Taco Bell is being replaced in by five parking spots and a sitting area, as well as a second proposed entrance/ exit behind the convenience store. The canopy over the gas pumps also will bear the Circle K logo.

The AMC Theater, which had to postpone a major renovation project after being been hit hard by Covid-19, and the former Ruby Tuesday restaurant, which will be replaced by Aldi, also are on the east side on BBD.

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