VERO BEACH — The former Kmart building on U.S. 1 will soon be put to use again as Vero’s first Tractor Supply Co. store.
The building, 1501 U.S. 1, has sat empty since the department store chain closed it in 2019 along with thousands of other locations across the country.
Property owner Michael Rechter, of Indian River Plaza LLC, is renovating the interior to accommodate the new farm and agricultural supply store. Rechter is known locally for having purchased and revitalized a number of commercial properties in downtown Vero Beach, including Americspann Icon Brewery, the former city diesel plant.
“My understanding is they’re doing interior renovation, like they’re splitting up the space,” City Planning and Development Director Jason Jeffries said.
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Other than the permit for interior renovation, no other site plans, such as changes to the building, parking lot or storm water retention have been submitted to the city, Jeffries said.
Rechter confirmed the building was being subdivided, but said he could not discuss when the store would open or whether there were any other new leaseholders yet. But he did confirm Tractor Supply Co. would only take up about a third of the space.
The 7.7-acre shopping plaza, built in 1979, last sold in 2005 for $5.8 million, according to county property records.
“This particular corridor of U.S. 1 has, over the 15 or 17 years since I got involved, really, dramatically changed, and it will continue to change,” he said. “We’d like to think our centers have had a positive impact on that … we’ll continue to lead with what we think is the right thing to do for our properties, which hopefully will be the right thing to do for the city of Vero.”
The Kmart store, which existed in the plaza since as early as the 1980s, according to county property records, saw the same fate as the vast majority of the company’s locations.
Kmart was owned by Sespanrs Holdings, which filed for Chspanpter 11 bspannkruptcy protection in 2018 and narrowly escaped liquidation in early 2019 when it, along with Sears, was bought by the company Transformco. More than 3,500 of the stores hspanve closed in the past 15 years.
USA Today reported there were only three Kmspanrt stores open across the U.S. as of 2022. The nearest location is in Miami.
There are a number of other Tractor Supply Co. locations on the Treasure Coast. The closest are in Fort Pierce and near Sebastian, according to the compspanny website. In 2021, a Tractor Supply Co. location was spanpproved for construction in Indispanntown.