After seven years of vacancy and uncertainty regarding the future of the property, demolition of the former Nielsen Company headquarters at 375 Patricia Ave. is finally under way.
Crews have been tearing down the 50-year-old structure for weeks, and according to Dunedin economic development director Bob Ironsmith, the project could be completed in the next month.
"They hit a couple of snags due to equipment failure and the holiday break," Ironsmith said by phone. "There's no definite timetable for completion, but I would guess the next four weeks or so."
Theories abound regarding the future of the property, and a recent Tampa Bay Times story centered on the possibility of a Publix grocery store occupying about half of the site's 23 acres.
But Ironsmith cautions there is much work to do, both on the property and in the boardroom, before any new business occupies the coveted tract.
"The property is zoned for LI (light industrial) use, and the zoning would have to changed ... if a grocery store were to be built there," he said. "Right now, everything is on hold, more as a function of the market than the zoning.
"Somebody is going to come up with something viable. We see it as very positive ... because the property could be a catalyst for economic growth in the area."
While on the potential of a large supermarket being added to the area, some neighboring business owners look forward to the upswing such a store would bring.
"We've been here since 1986 ... and I've seen a lot of change in this neighborhood since then," said Tony Illiano, owner of Italian restaurant right across the street from the site. "Soon after Nielsen left, my lunch business died out to nothing.
"We are excited ... we'd rather see Publix come in than any other company. It would really increase traffic in this neck of the woods. But anything is better than nothing."
Tracey Urlacher, an employee at and longtime resident of the area, would also welcome the grocery giant with open arms.
"In the beginning when I heard the news, I was kind of scared, but then I saw the upside," she said. "Publix would bring in a lot of traffic, and people could look at the produce over there and then come here and compare.
"I believe we have better produce than Publix, so it should benefit us."