A developer will demolish a former bowling alley in Islamorada next week to clear the 4.6-acre site for a Publix supermarket, despite legal and political opposition to the project.
Seth Lawless, village manager of Islamorada, told the village council in an email that site work for the project is expected to start June 1 following demolition of the former bowling alley on a bay-side lot at mile marker 83 in the Florida Keys.
The developer, Equity Development Group, plans to open the 34,062-square-foot Publix store by April 2018.
The developer overcame a lawsuit by residents opposed to the Publix project and a referendum that would have limited the size of commercial developments in Islamorada to 10,000 square feet. Voters rejected the referendum in November 2014.
The Bay Hammock Homeowners Association and an association called Keep Islamorada Peaceful Prosperous and Safe filed the lawsuit, which alleged that the planned Publix store is too large and inconsistent with the character of existing businesses in Islamorada.
In 2008, a federal appellate court quashed a village ordinance intended to prevent chain stores from opening in Islamorada. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ordinance discouraged interstate commerce by protecting locally run businesses.
The 11th Circuit found that Islamorada already had “formula retail” businesses and lacked historically significant buildings or districts that imbued the village with a definitive “community character.” [Flkeysnews.com] – Mike Seemuth