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Walmart project could displace DialAmerica

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PORT RICHEY - Plans are proceeding to build a Walmart Neighborhood Market at Little and Ridge roads, but the project would displace the adjacent West Pasco call center for telemarketer DialAmerica, which employs some 200 people.Benderson Development has added the Walmart logo to a sign about the renovations under way at Ridge Plaza. The shopping center on the northwest corner of Little and Ridge also features the Sioux City Steakhouse, Shapes gymnasium, Dollar General, Hobby Lobby, Dollar Tree and more.Some question marks hang over the space now occupied by DialAmerica on the northern leg of the shopping center at 8729 Little. "DialAmerica is currently exploring real estate options, including looking for an alternate space that could meet its needs," Lesley Neadel replied in an email. Neadel is the manager of client services for CooperKatz & Company, a New York-based public relations firm representing DialAmerica.The DialAmerica call center has about 20 full-time employees and some 180 part-time agents at its West Pasco location, Neadel said. In the message Neadel noted Dial America has been operating in the New Port Richey area for 25 years. The Walmart project would require the razing of the long-vacant building at the eastern end of the L-shaped center that once housed an Eckerd Drug Store. That building, however, is far smaller than the Neighborhood Market store, which would have roughly 42,000 square feet of space.Exactly how much more space the Walmart location would need isn't exactly clear at the moment. Inquiries were sent to Walmart corporate headquarters and the developer, but no replies were received by press time.The smaller Walmart in Ridge Plaza would cover less than half the space of its big-brother Supercenter stores in Port Richey, Hudson and the Trinity area.The Walmart store logo already appears on an online brochure from Benderson Development, a real estate construction, leasing and management company based in University Park, Fla. The Benderson brochure cites average traffic counts of 39,000 a day on Little Road and 26,000 along that section of Ridge Road. Other demographics include 60,041 residents within three miles, average household income of $45,464 and five-year growth projections of 13 percent.On Sept. 11, 2004, an Eckerd drug store closed in Ridge Plaza as part of consolidation after the buyout by CVS. The building, bordering Little Road at the northernmost entrance, has remain largely unoccupied ever since. CVS executives have decided against rebranding the Eckerd location in Ridge Plaza because it was very close to the existing CVS store at 7120 Ridge Road.corth@suncoastnews.com(727) 815-1068

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