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.