7-Eleven was shown the un-welcome mat last year when an uproar caused by Nelmar Terrace neighbors and others in North City was sufficient to move City Manager John Regan to use money in the city’s general fund to purchase land (above its appraised value) to prevent construction of an already permitted convenience store on San Marco Avenue.
After tempers cooled and the spotlight dimmed, Regan negotiated the sale of the land to the Florida Department of Transportation — at a financial loss to city taxpayers. Now that property is at the heart of controversy again as Regan continues to stumble through the mobility, congestion and transportation boondoggle that is the convergence of SR-A1A (May Street), SR-5 (Ponce de Leon Boulevard), and SR-5A (San Marco Avenue).
The million-dollar taxpayer-financed three-card-monte never raised an eyebrow in Irving, Texas where the neighborhood convenience store giant is headquartered. In the boardroom of Seven & I Holdings, the Japanese company that owns 7-Eleven Inc., most have never heard of St Augustine.
On last Thursday, 7-Eleven announced publicly a $3.3 billion-dollar deal to acquire 1,108 existing stores from Sunoco in 18 states, including those in St Johns County and St Augustine. One location closely parallels the San Marco property within a couple of blocks, but on Ponce de Leon Boulevard.
The soon-to-be re-branded gas stations and convenience stores are all in growth markets including New York, Florida and California, where 7-Eleven says it can concentrate stores. Sunoco, which is owned by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Equity, is expected to close the sale to 7-Eleven in the second half of this year. Seven & I has agreed to continue to buy gasoline from Sunoco for 15 years.