The official statement from Walmart: "....we have no plans to announce regarding a store in St. Petersburg..."
The unofficial evidence: a lease between Walmart and the St. Petersburg Housing Authority for an unused gymnasium on 22nd Street South, from September 1st through December 31st, 2013.
Paragraph 5 says "Tenant shall use the Premises only for screening, interviewing and hiring prospective employees."
The gym is a few blocks away from 1794 22nd Street South, the location of a vacated Midtown Sweetbay supermarket. That address, and the same Walmart store number used on the lease, are found in a legal notice of fictitious name published August 15th in the Tampa Bay Times.
Add it up and Angel Torres is encouraged. He manages a Suit World store in Tangerine Plaza, which was formerly anchored by the Sweetbay.
"We've been struggling, it's been really hard," Torres said. "Really, really hard for everybody on this plaza."
The loss was also noted by a nail technician named Janae, who works in a salon on the same plaza.
"The grocery store was so important to the community because a lot of people have no transportation," she said, "I've been here seven years and I've seen the same faces walk up and down this sidewalk for seven years depending on this grocery store."
Mayor Bill Foster would not confirm or deny a Walmart neighborhood market will fill the vacant Sweetbay. However, he noted the importance to redeveloping 22nd Street South, known locally as the Dueces.
"Tangerine Plaza [is] the southern bookend of discovering the Dueces," Foster explained. "When you've got a bookend that falls, books fall. So it was of the utmost importance that we got another bookend to really stand all of this intense redevelopment up."
Foster said the city has been trying to locate tenants for three Sweetbays that closed in St. Petersburg. He suggested announcements will be forthcoming, and did not dispute the evidence of a Midtown Walmart.
"A notice of fictitious name registration" he laughed. "Go figure."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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