PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — Real estate developer and asset manager The St. Joe Co. and retailer and fuel supplier Johnson & Johnson Inc. have formed a joint venture to construct, own and manage a Busy Bee gas station and convenience store in Panama City Beach, Fla.
The project is now under construction on approximately 2.6 acres of land. Plans call for the Nautilus Busy Bee to include an approximately 15,500-square-foot convenience store, 32 fueling positions and a quick-service restaurant, the companies said.
Johnson & Johnson, which owns and operates Busy Bee stores in Florida and Georgia, will be part owner of the Nautilus Busy Bee and manage day-to-day operations for the joint venture. When complete, the Nautilus Busy Bee will be the largest convenience store in the region, the companies said. This site will be the first of multiple northwest Florida locations owned by the joint venture, they said.
“We are thrilled to finalize this agreement with St. Joe and to see construction underway,” said Elizabeth Waring, principal and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, Madison, Fla. “This new Busy Bee will be ideally situated in close proximity to the Pier Park area and the new Panama City Beach Sports Complex, making it a convenient location for Panama City Beach residents and visitors.”
Johnson & Johnson has 18 c-stores and travel plazas and several QSRs in Florida and Georgia.
“Busy Bee stores are known for their unique selection of gourmet foods and merchandise, as well as their impeccably clean and well-outfitted facilities and restrooms,” the company said in announcing the joint venture. Among the featured foods are Buttah Bee and Bee Bits, which are corn meal nuggets coated in butter or caramel. Other foods include jams and jellies, honey, popcorn, jerky, fudge, candy and hot sauce. Merchandise includes jewelry, candles and lotions.
The retailer also offers merchandise such as T-shirts and travel mugs bearing the Busy Bee logo. Most of the foods and merchandise are also available online at shopthebusybee.com.
“This joint venture aligns with our strategy to partner with best-in-class operators to continue to grow and diversify recurring operating income,” said Jorge Gonzalez, president and CEO of Watersound, Fla.-based St. Joe. “Busy Bee has a proven track record of successful operations and strong brand loyalty. We are very pleased to have partnered with Johnson & Johnson, and we look forward to introducing Busy Bee to Panama City Beach.”
The companies expect construction of the Nautilus Busy Bee to be completed in early 2020.
Florida is a destination for another large-scale c-store retailer. In January, Lake Jackson. Texas-based Buc-ee’s Ltd., which has more than 30 locations in Texas, opened its first store outside the Lone Star State in Robertsdale, Ala., as a stepping stone to the Sunshine State. And Buc-ee’s is planning further expansion along the travel corridors to Florida. It is also slated to build stores in Daytona Beach and Fort Myers, Fla.
The Nautilus Busy Bee is one of at least 30 new residential, commercial or hospitality projects that St. Joe has or intends to initiate in 2019. It owns land concentrated primarily in northwest Florida.