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    C-store Chains Flocking to Florida's Volusia County

    Wawa's entry into the state may have sparked interest for others to expand.

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Sunoco Inc., RaceTrac Petroleum Corp. and Wawa Inc. are just a few of the convenience store and gas station chains building up their presence in Florida's Volusia County.

    Sunoco is leading the charge with plans to renovate or replace 11 convenience/gas locations in the county, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Sunoco's newest corporate A-Plus store is nearing completion in Ormond Beach, at the northeast corner of U.S. 1 and Granada Boulevard.

    Philadelphia-based Sunoco is not alone in ramping up its presence. Other national chains are moving in as well.

    "We are seeing a push by the corporate operators like Wawa and RaceTrac in bigger metro markets like Tampa and Orlando, and now it's starting here," said Jim Nefferdorf, manager of Gas Stations USA, a Daytona Beach-based brokerage/consulting firm that specializes in helping businesses buy and/or sell gas station properties. "They see the money in it and are new to the state."

    Atlanta-based RaceTrac plans to build two locations in Daytona Beach,while Pennsylvania-based Wawa is planning two locations in Port Orange. Wawa's two gas stations will be the retailer's first in the Volusia-Flagler area, the newspaper reported.

    In addition, Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. is building in Port Orange and the location is expected to be the first business to open in Port Orange developer Buddy LaCour's planned New Port mixed-use complex.

    The building boom is not limited to Daytona Beach and Port Orange, either. RaceTrac has built gas station/stores in DeLand and Orange City, and is planning to build two more in Deltona, according to the report.

    The addition of new convenience stores/gas stations by national chains in the area can be seen as a precursor to more commercial development, according to local real estate observers. Wawa's 2012 entry into Florida has "created a sense of urgency with all the convenience store owners to find and buy good corner locations," said John Albright, president and CEO of Daytona Beach-based Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co.

    However, the push by national chains in the area can also negatively impact small independent gas station operators, said Pat Moricca, president of the Florida Gasoline Retailers Association.

    "They are cherry-picking the bigger markets and now, Daytona Beach seems to be in their plans," Moricca said. "They sell gas at or below cost and make it up in the stores. When a conglomerate comes in, we lose four or five independent stations."

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