Wawa construction aerial.jpg

This is what the Wawa site in Crystal River looked like in January 2019. Not much has changed since.

Fans of Wawa were counting on seeing construction start this month on the new Crystal River location.

But the company now says that start date has been pushed back — by more than a year.

The reason? Well, Wawa is not exactly forthcoming with that.

“Currently, our Crystal River, Florida, location is scheduled to go under construction in 2021,” Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce said in an email. “Estimated time frames are subject to change until we begin construction.”

Bruce adds: “Because our construction timelines and grand opening dates are based on factors that include the timing of permits and approvals received throughout our system, we don’t share definitive dates until we move further along the development process,” Bruce added.

Except that permitting apparently has nothing to do with the Crystal River site at the northeast corner of State Road 44 and U.S. 19. 

City Manager Ken Frink said it’s been fully permitted since June and he’s a bit surprised by this delay. City officials, he said, are just as anxious to see Wawa go up and add to the downtown business mix.

“We’re excited to have them but we’re disappointed it’s going to take so long,” Frink said. “(We) can’t control their business decisions. Obviously, they’ve got a lot invested in the property there (so) I will take them at their word that they’re going to be coming.”

Crystal River Assistant City Manager Brown “Jack” Dumas said he remains confident Wawa is still coming.

“I have no reason to believe that their plans have changed in any other issue than schedule,” Dumas said.

Construction had originally been scheduled to start in late August 2019 and take seven months. A new November deadline was set.

The "Wawa coming soon" sign at the Crystal River site has been up for more than five months and, except for land clearing, not much else has been done.

Land clearing started over a year-and-a-half ago, soon after the old Fat Boys' Bar-B-Q restaurant was torn down to make way for the new chain.

Wawa in May opened its first store at the southeast corner of County Roads 486 and 491. About 200 people showed up for the grand opening, a testament to Wawa’s popularity for folks who swear by the chain’s sub sandwiches and inexpensive gas prices.

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com.

(14) comments

DebraR

I do hope that there are some fines due the city since the project has been fully permitted for 5 months and there's nothing to show for it but an ugly vacant lot. And please tell me that Wawa wasn't paid any Economic Development incentives from the county for job creation...

RogerSchmiedel

Couldn't be the Draconian way one would have to enter WAWA, from one street short oh US 19, could it? Crystal River already changed the intersection SR 44/US 19 marking it difficult to turn right North Bound. Seemed to work for the old Fat Boys...

RICHARDKLEINSMITH

I am a bit surprised that folks want 'fast food' places. I hear many people say that we don't have enough family style, sit-down places to eat. The ones we have are good but some close early.

HANSW

NO more gas stations a little park in that location would be nice a few trees would add to the attractiveness.

KATHARINEK

We agree. How did Wawa ever get permits to build there? The entire intersection

is a nightmare.

CaroleHendry

I would love to see Wawa in Homosassa

KATHARINEK

No, Homosassa (south end) needs a Chick-Fil-A. Mmm! The best fast-food and

the best employees. Also, needed is a decent hotel.

Msfahrenheit

There is not enough population to support a Chick-fil-A, or it would already be here.

LWillis

This would be a great location for a BBQ Restaurant

WALTERB

A downtown mix? A gas station adds to a mix? There is already a BP station and the recently closed Shell station. And that location is really bad for a gas station due to the high traffic on 19/44.

There is just no need for a Wawa or any other station at that location.

CitrusCo Citizen

So here's a novel idea. How about replanting all of the trees that you destroyed? How about putting a little Nature back in the Nature Coast? Just fantasizing--it'll never happen.

GlennF

Totally Agree. Bad Location For Any Type of Convenient Store or Gas Station at that Location.

AGardner

Have you been inside and ordered any of their food?

Not the stuff found in normal gas stations, they have a wide variety of sandwiches that are made to order, soups, other hot dishes, salad, breakfast items, awesome milkshakes, smoothies and a variety of different kinds of coffee. It's more than a gas station. I go there for the food.

WilliamSprake

I agree with AGARDNER and wawa tends to keep the price of gas down.

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