Deal is near for Trader Joe's location in Palm Beach Gardens

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLa.  —What would you trade for Trader Joe's?

How about the cost of gas to drive to Palm Beach Gardens?

Word is the popular, California-based boutique grocery store is close to a deal to open a location at PGA Plaza, in Palm Beach Gardens. The plaza is on the southwest corner of PGA Boulevard and Prosperity Farms Road.

The deal has been in the works for years but the recession scared off the company, until now, real estate sources said.

Natalie Crowley, director of planning and zoning for the city of Palm Beach Gardens, said Trader Joe's had been discussed some time ago for the PGA Plaza. But she said nothing about the gourmet grocer has been presented to the city recently, although Menin Development, which owns the PGA Plaza, has asked the city's permission to do some work to the shopping center.

A Trader Joe's spokeswoman, however, threw cold water on the notion, saying: "At this time, it is not in our two-year plan to open in Palm Beach."

Robert Jacoby, chief operating officer of Menin Development on Palm Beach, declined to comment.

But sources say the deal is a likely go, as housing gains in the area have encouraged Trader Joe's officials. It could take a couple of years for the store to open, however.

While shoppers in northern Palm Beach County might rejoice at the chance to buy gourmet appetizers, artisan cheeses and inexpensive but drinkable wine, residents in West Palm Beach could be in for a big disappointment.

In January, the city wanted a Trader Joe's so badly it offered up the possibility of renaming the city Trader Joe's, Florida, for a day.

Customers love the quirky look of the cedar-planked walls, the Hawaiian shirts worn by employees and the range of Trader Joe's items that are low-priced but tasty.

But renaming West Palm Beach wasn't enough to sway the company, which has locations nationwide but is slowing expanding through Florida. Trader Joe's opened its first Florida store in February in Naples, and a second store will open in September in Sarasota. Another store is planned to open in November in Gainesville.

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