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Former Blockbuster razed to make room for credit union

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Ten years ago, the Blockbuster Video store at the northeast corner of State Road 54 and Rowan Road was still doing fairly brisk business.

Fast-forwarding to 2014, demolition crews last week tore down the vacant shell of the former video store to make room for a Midflorida Credit Union branch. The Blockbuster name has disappeared from the in-store retail landscape but continues with online video rentals and sales.

Commissioner Henry Wilson said he is always glad to see development such as the credit union within his district.

Midflorida Credit Union wants to build a branch with some 5,180 square feet, according to Beverly Trudell, a Pasco County development review technician. The branch would include five drive-through lanes.

The Midflorida plan is in the final approval process, Trudell said.

Based in Lakeland, Midflorida has some 50 branches. The firm started in 1954 as Polk County Teachers Credit Union, with about $7,000 on deposit, according to its website. After expansion and mergers in recent years, the institution now has about $1.8 billion in assets.

“Since the Blockbuster has been vacant — there have been several proposals — but it looks like this one is a go,” Pasco Zoning Administrator Carol Clark wrote Thursday in an email. “That is good news, and a sign things are picking up.”

Wilson said he wants to know if there is any movement to redevelop the former Sweetbay supermarket on the same corner adjacent to the former Blockbuster parcel. Wilson said he planned to check.

The former supermarket site at 7423 and 7431 S.R. 54 carries a taxable value of more than $1.3 million, according to Pasco Property Appraiser files. The building contains some 41,000 square feet.

Sweetbay closed the State Road 54 location in February 2013. In May 2013, the parent company of Sweetbay supermarkets sold the chain to Jacksonville-based Bi-Lo Holdings, the parent company of Winn-Dixie Stores, for $265 million.

The deal included the 72 still-operating Sweetbay stores and 83 locations under different brands around the country. Bi-Lo converted most Sweetbays here into Winn-Dixie stores.

The 2013 deal also stipulated Bi-Lo would acquire the leases for 10 Sweetbay locations already closed, including the State Road 54 store.

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