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Why it cost Wawa nothing to buy five store sites in Palm Beach County


To assemble sites for five Wawa stores in Palm Beach County, developers have spent $17 million. But not a penny of it came directly from the Pennsylvania-based retailer known for its hoagies and coffee selection.

One model behind Wawa’s breakneck expansion into Florida — the chain has more than 100 stores here and plans to have 50 in Palm Beach and Broward counties in five years — calls for developers, not Wawa itself, to put up the cash.

Click on pins for more details about lots. Zoom into the map to see the specific locations in detail.

What did developers pay?

Developers paid $17.6 million over two years to provide sites for the five Wawa gas station/convenience stores now open in Palm Beach County.

That does nothing to reduce the economic impact of the stores, which represent a minimum of a $6 million investment, including employment for about 130 construction workers, plus jobs for 50 store employees, company officials say.

“At the end of day, it is a big investment on behalf of Wawa and our partners,” said John Poplawski, Wawa’s senior director of site acquisition.

So far, developers, employing an approach long followed by retail chains such as Walgreens, have scouted and bought the sites in Palm Beach County, negotiated government permits and prepared the site for contractors, who are hired by Wawa.

One site at Lake Worth Road and Congress Avenue assembled in 2015 for $4.1 million recently sold for $7.3 million, now with the added value of Wawa’s long-term presence.

Developer Brightwork Real Estate of Tampa made the sale. The same developer, under the name BW Australian Belvedere, took advantage of pollution concerns at the Belvedere Road site that opened Thursday. BW paid $2.5 million for nearly 9 acres in December 2015. That works out to $6.42 per square foot, far below the $27.66 price paid on average for the other four properties.

In 2015, the former landfill site was declared a brownfield, requiring a state-sanctioned cleanup plan and freeing up grant money. The land just east of Palm Beach International Airport had been a dump for incinerator ash dating to the 1920s. When announcing plans, Brightwork also promised a hotel for the site, which is far larger than the minimum 2-acre Wawa location. Talks with hotel operators are ongoing, Poplawski said.

Brightwork, which has partnered with Wawa on about 30 deals in Florida, also is the developer behind the Greenacres site that opened Thursday at Jog and Lake Worth roads. Brightwork paid $4 million in 2016 to assemble the 4-acre site. 

To help readers track the economic impact of Wawa, The Post created a map spelling out what developers paid for each site. As Wawa expands, the map will too.



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