Downtown Tampa still lacks a grocery store to serve growing residential population

Publix and Walmart plans both fizzled

TAMPA - Duckweed Urban Market, with its outdoor cafe tables and produce department you could fit in your master closet, is a regular stop for residents of the high rises overhead.

But the snack-sized store is actually the only real grocery option within the boundaries of downtown, Channelside and Ybor City.

"It seems pretty strange, but that's why we're here in the first place because there was nothing to serve that purpose for downtown residents," said Duckweed Manager Jessica Moore.

Moore said their niche is local and organic, so she's not too worried about the full-size grocer that's bound to come.

The question has always been a matter of when. Realtor David Traynor with Smith and Associates hopes it's soon.

"We have an increase in residents who want to live in downtown and Harbor Island, but the number one need right now is a grocery store they can walk to in close proximity to where they live and work and play," Traynor said.

The Encore project just east of downtown was courting Publix until they backed out last year. Then the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported negotiations with Walmart went south this week.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn said a new grocery story is on the way, and isn't surprised at the secrecy that surrounds the negotiations.

"They're going to be very calculating about it. They're going to be very cautious about it, but when it's all said and done, the numbers are here, the buying power is here. It's going to happen," Buckhorn said.

The most likely spot for a Publix, Walmart or Winn Dixie is thought to be in The Channelside District, but until then little Duckweed has the market cornered.

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