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    Gate Petroleum Grows, Defends Northeast Florida Turf

    Jacksonville-based retailer has four new locations on the drawing board.

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Locally based Gate Petroleum Co. is expanding its footprint in the northeast corner of Florida as other convenience store chains begin to establish a presence in the market.

    According to the Jacksonville Daily Record, Gate Petroleum filed plans for what would be its fourth new c-store in Southside, one of the area's strongest retail, residential and office markets. It also plans a new St. Johns County store at the World Commerce Center.

    "Gate is identifying locations in the Northeast Florida market to better serve our customers and provide opportunity to our employees," said spokeswoman Kristen Beach.

    While the company does not reveal investment costs, the four Duval stores represent what could be at least a $9-million investment in construction costs alone, the news outlet reported.

    The company has applied to build a gas station/convenience store and car wash in the Bayard area, which is near the St. Johns County line. The 6,620-square-foot store and 28 fueling stations, along with a 1,421-square-foot car wash, would be developed on almost 4.1 acres along Philips Highway. The store would sit on part of 37 undeveloped acres Gate Petroleum purchased in November for $2.7 million.

    With 41 convenience stores currently in Northeast Florida and 31 locations in Duval County alone, the company's plans for four new Southside locations include:

    • A 6,616-square-foot store with 24 fueling positions and a car wash on 3.17 acres at 4123 Town Center Parkway near the St. Johns Town Center. The company is targeting a February or March opening.
       
    • A 3,968-square-foot store at 3150 Emerson St. at Interstate 95 to replace a smaller store at 3230 Emerson St. The company is targeting a spring opening.
       
    • The 6,620-square-foot Bayard store with 28 fueling positions and a car wash on 4.1 acres. The company is targeting a 2015 opening.
       
    • A 6,700-square-foot convenience store with 22 fueling positions and a car wash on almost 3.17 acres at Baymeadows Road East and R.G. Skinner Boulevard. The property is under contract and was scheduled to close Jan. 16. The company is targeting a late 2014 or early 2015 opening.

    In addition to new store growth, Gate Petroleum purchased a former Applebee's location in North Jacksonville adjacent to one of the company's existing stores. The retailer plans to use the newly acquired property to add more fueling positions and store parking, the news outlet reported.

    The developments come at a time when 7-Eleven Inc., RaceTrac Petroleum Corp., Daily's -- a division of Tri Star Energy LLC -- and other convenience store/gas station chains are building new locations in the area. In addition, observers are watching for Pennsylvania-based Wawa Inc. to expand from its central Florida focus into other parts of the state, including North Florida.

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