'Texas-sized' 120-pump gas station and convenience store would be largest in Florida

DAYTONA BEACH — A planned Texas-sized gas station/convenience store here is a big step closer to becoming a reality.

The Daytona Beach City Commission last week unanimously approved a rezone request to allow the Texas-based Buc-ee's chain to build a 120-gas pump station and 53,254-square-foot travel convenience center next to the Interstate 95-LPGA Boulevard interchange.

It would be the largest gas station/convenience store in the state, dwarfing the 38-pump, 20,000-square-foot Busy Bee truck stop in Live Oak, off of Interstate 10.

The 35-acre site of the planned Daytona Beach Buc-ee's is on the northeast quadrant of the interchange. It was previously zoned for single-family residential and industrial use.

The site is immediately west of Stonewood Grill restaurant.

Site work could start as soon as May, with building construction starting this summer, according to Parker Mynchenberg, project engineer.

"Final site plan approval from the City is next step in approval process," Mynchenberg wrote in an email. "State and federal permits are (already) issued."

That's keeps the project pretty much on the schedule expressed earlier this year by Buc-ee's cofounder Arch "Beaver" Aplin.

Mynchenberg said in the email the store should be opening in about 18 months.

Jeff Nadalo, general counsel for Buc-ee's Ltd., in an email this week, wrote, "We are working hard to move the project along."

Cobb Cole attorney Rob Merrell, representing Buc-ee's, told the City Commission at its March 7 meeting that the planned gas station/convenience store will be "Texas-sized" and could be the first for the chain to open in Florida.

Buc-ee's also expects to open a location next year in St. Augustine, near the Interstate 95-International Golf Parkway interchange, and also has plans to build a store in Fort Myers.

The Daytona Beach location is expected to create 225 jobs, Merrell said.

Jim Cameron, senior vice president of government relations for the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, urged the commission to approve the rezone request.

"The (Daytona Regional) Chamber wants to go on record in support of this project," he said at the commission meeting.

Mayor Derrick Henry said Buc-ee's will provide "one more reason to visit Daytona Beach."

Henry, who lives close to the planned Buc-ee's, said, "I'm excited about the options it will bring locals."

GasBuddy.com earlier this year named Buc-ee's as the nation's No. 1 gas station/convenience store, giving it high marks for restroom cleanliness, quality of food and customer service.

Buc-ee's restrooms, which are staffed by attendants, are "award-winning" and "as clean as they can be," Merrell told the commission.

The chain is also known for its fresh food offerings, including sandwiches and pastries, as well as its large assortment of snack foods, including its own line of "Beaver Nuggets" (caramel-coated corn puffs) and pickled quail eggs. It also offers travel convenience items, souvenirs and Buc-ee's branded apparel.

The project includes pads for five other retail buildings. Despite the large size of its locations, Buc-ee's is not a truck stop. Only tractor-trailers delivering supplies to the store will be allowed on the premises, Merrell told the commission.

LPGA Boulevard has been a hotbed for construction activity as of late.

Other projects recently opened or in the works along the busy east-west corridor include the Tanger Outlets mall that opened in November 2016, the planned Latitude Margaritaville 55-and-older community and neighboring Mosaic "full life" community going up on the west side of I-95, and a 120-acre "power lifestyle" retail center under construction just east of Tanger that will include Dave & Buster's, Hobby Lobby, Academy Sports + Outdoors and restaurants.