Publix buys 9.5 acres of ‘potato field’ property

By Gary Alan Ruse….
Publix Supermarkets has bought a 9.5-acre parcel of land located at Old Cutler Road and 212th Street to construct a “super store” and will close the Publix currently located at 20425 Old Cutler Rd.

The property, near the Health South facility, is part of the area known as the “old potato field” and has been vacant for some time. Tony Diego, manager of the current store, confirmed the deal and said it will allow Publix to improve things for its customers.

“It will be on Old Cutler and Marlin Road and it’s going to be a real large store,” Diego said during an Oct. 6 interview. “It will probably be open in a couple more years. It will take about two years before they get everything situated, maybe a year and a half or so.

“That’s all I can tell you. A lot of the other stuff is confidential. But it’s going to be a big Publix, so we’ll be able to carry a lot more stuff, like the Publix Greenwise items and organic type items,” he added.

Residents who have posted comments about the current store on review sites such as and others have all said the same thing — they loved the store but hated the parking, which was shared with all the other businesses in the strip mall that stretches south from Publix.

Long time area resident Bill Meiklejohn shared that opinion.

“They never really had enough parking spaces where they are now, so this will help a lot,” Meiklejohn said.

The area has long been a point of discussion regarding what type of development should and would take place there, and the Town of Cutler Bay’s Master Plan included a recommendation that the town itself should buy the property. But with a tighter economy and because another location was found for the Town Hall, that idea was abandoned.

In April of 2005 Miami-Dade County recommended denying a zoning change of the entire 35.61-gross-acre potato field property from low density residential to business and office when developers hoped to build a large complex there. County officials stated that the zoning change “is not consistent with the Charrette Report for Old Cutler Road, which was accepted by the county commissioners on Apr. 13, 2004.”

The county also pointed out that the Florida Legislature in 1974 designated Old Cutler Road as a “State Historic Road” and as a “State Scenic Highway” and prohibited the two-lane roadway from being widened, adding that “a shopping center of this magnitude would be out of character for a historic road that can’t be widened.”

Because the Publix acquisition is less than a third of the overall property, the project should be more acceptable and allay concerns.

Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall is encouraged by the news but said he is waiting for more information.

“I think this is something that is going to be good for the town as a whole,” MacDougall said when interviewed on Oct. 7. “It will benefit the residents. That said, there are still a lot of details that have to be worked out with our building and permitting departments. We haven’t seen a site plan yet, and I’m sure there are some green space concerns that we’ll all want to take a look at.”

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