Construction is moving forward on two of the most eagerly awaited Publix stores in Tampa Bay.

Publix has officially signed a lease for a downtown Tampa location at the corner of E. Twiggs Street and N. Meridian Avenue, as part of a new residential development with Mercury Advisors. The grocery will likely break ground on Oct. 7, said Brian West, spokesman for Publix. Mercury Advisors announced in December that a 37,600-square-foot Publix would be part of the 21-story apartment tower known as the Channel Club development, but West said Publix did not officially sign a lease with the developer until recently.

Publix will fill a void for a much needed urban grocery store in the Channel District when it opens next year.

Construction also continues on a Publix store set to open in downtown St. Petersburg on Central Avenue. The 30,000-square-foot Publix, which is smaller than a traditional store, will open as part of the 700 Central residential project which will bring hundreds of new apartments including the Hermitage, an eight-story building with 348 rentals, to St. Petersburg. The grocery store will likely open early in 2017, West said.

The store will have a three-level parking garage above it. It is part of a center being developed by the ARC Group. It's just a few blocks from a Publix at 250 Third St. S, another store that is pocket-sized compared to most, at 29,000 square feet.

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