ISLAMORADA -- Six months after a developer announced that Winn-Dixie won't be the occupant of a planned mile marker 81 supermarket, it remains uncertain which company will fill the void.
"The process is taking longer than anticipated," Owen Ewing, managing member of site owner Win Development, told the Free Press last week. "I have no update at this time."
Meanwhile, last month the village of Islamorada approved a two-year extension to the 15,561-square-foot commercial building allocation it granted for the supermarket site in February. Without the extension, the allocation would have expired on Aug. 4.
It was also in February that the Village Council approved the latest plan for the proposed 22,000-square-foot market. That was only the most recent step in a process that has gone on for almost four years and has outlasted a bank foreclosure against the original development company, Net5FDA.
On the night of the site plan approval, Ewing revealed that Winn-Dixie, which had long been a partner in the project, was no longer involved in the deal. The news appeared to catch some Village Council members off guard.
Though Ewing has never publicly said which supermarket chain, or chains, he has negotiated with as potential replacements, it has been commonly known in village circles that The Fresh Market has been his primary target.
In an interview last week, Michael Anzalone, whose former Iguana Club property is part of the market plan, said that discussions with The Fresh Market are ongoing.
"They've been down. They've done a demographic study. They have not said, 'No, we're not doing it,' but they have not finalized a deal," he said.
A spokeswoman for the grocery chain declined to comment on whether the company is considering an Islamorada store.
Anzalone added that two other chains have also expressed an interest in the mile marker 81 site.
Win applied for the two-year extension of its building application on July 1, the first day that a newly-passed state law requiring that local governments grant such extensions went into effect.