Sunflower Health Foods finds new, bigger location


Published: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 4:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 4:29 p.m.

Sunflower Health Foods is moving out of Westgate Plaza ahead of possible redevelopment by Publix and into the former George’s Hardware store nearby.

Owner Carol Ames said the new location northwest of the intersection at 3424 W. University Ave. will give Sunflower better visibility in a wider store. The former George’s is also closer to the street.

“My lease is up and I could have rented month to month until we know something but the unknowing is not a good situation to be in,” she said.

The city of Gainesville does not yet have an application to redevelop the plaza at the southeast corner of University Avenue and 34th Street, though representatives of Publix met with city staff in a “first step” meeting last week to go over regulatory requirements, said Erik Bredfeldt, economic development and innovation director.

Gator Domino’s franchisee Freddie Wehbe said his lease in Westgate requires at least a six-month notice to vacate and he hasn’t received one yet.

A Publix spokesman did not respond to an email for comment Monday.

Publix and the city have held a first-step meeting at least once previously. A 2011 email from city staff to officials who review development plans announced a meeting with a local engineer whose customer is interested in demolishing the Publix, CVS and Checkers and rebuilding.

Sunflower Health Foods carries vitamins and supplements, as well as sports nutrition and natural groceries.

The business started as a cooperative in downtown Gainesville in 1970 and moved to Westgate in the early 1970s. Jill Wilson bought the business from the McConnell family in 2001 and Ames bought it in 2008.

Ames said the interior of George’s was renovated and the exterior is being renovated now. She anticipates moving in late February.

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