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When will Burnt Store get a grocery store? It could be sooner than later

Frank Vitale, who represents commercial property owners on Burnt Store Road, said the area could be ready for a retail center in 18-24 months.
Posted at 6:30 PM, Jun 17, 2024

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — With very little commercial development on Burnt Store Road, homeowners who live on the corridor are getting fed up with long trips for basic necessities.

For people like Kathi Burke, who lives in Heritage Landing, a “quick trip” to the grocery store can take over an hour.

“I drive to a Publix, pick one in either in Lee County or Charlotte County. It takes me at least thirty minutes back and forth without even counting the time in the store,” said Burke.

Kathi B
Kathi Burke speaks with Fox 4's Charlotte County Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk.

In addition to a shopping center, Burke and others in the Burnt Store area said lack of access to medical facilities is a concern as well.

“That's a big problem,” said Burke. “There isn't enough of that. If there is an emergency here or someone has a heart attack, where are they going to get service?”

Despite thousands of additional residential units approved and planned for the area, county staff says the Burnt Store area does not have the population to support a large retailer with its current population.

County staff predict that by 2045, the population will be sufficient for a neighborhood shopping center.

County population projection.
Commercial Projection Based on Metro Forecasting Models.

Contrary to the county staff, Frank Vitale, who represents property owners at two locations on Burnt Store Road that are already zoned for commercial building says that he expects the population to hit a key threshold for large retailers within 18-24 months.

“We have just been waiting for the population to reach what would be critical mass,” said Vitale. In truth we’re right there. We're right at the cusp. I’ve been speaking with a number of representatives from different large retail operations and they all recognize that the Burnt Store Corridor - that location is the logical location for them to go ahead with building and bringing in large scale supermarkets at the like.”

Frank Vitale
Frank Vitale speaks with Fox 4's Charlotte County Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk.

Vitale also said that there has been talks of putting in a medical facility as well.

“Ideally it would be a supermarket anchored shopping type plaza. The other need that clearly exists there would be medical type services,” said Vitale. “You have a situation where people are driving 15 to 20 miles to take care of their basics, to take care of their medical needs, or to just get their car refueled. While that might be fine if you've chosen to live in a rural area, this is no longer a rural area. You have thousands of people that have moved in there in the past couple of years who expect a certain quality of life and convenience to take care of their day-to-day basics.”

The major hold up, Vitale said, is a combination of government controlled aspects like traffic lights and drainage concerns.

Burnt Store & Zemel Road.
Road sign at Burnt Store and Zemel Road.

What we are waiting for are issues that need to be remediated at the government level,” said Vitale. “Any large supermarket, for example, they want to know that there is going to be a traffic light in some of these locations. They're concerned about egress for their shoppers. The issue of drainage is naturally a concern after Hurricane Ian, but again these are fixes that can be done with the cooperation of local government.”