What’s happening to the Big Boxes? Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is still building them but the world’s largest retailer is also making an end run on to new design turf these days in metro Orlando.

The newly-designed stores are also going to cost a tad more to construct. The Bentonville, AR-based retailer never discloses construction costs but construction industry sources tell GlobeSt.com Wal-Mart generally puts up its big boxes for about $30 psf. The two stylish Super Centers, however, will cost an estimated $75 psf, or about $17 million per store.

Wal-Mart plans to break ground by year end on Super Centers in Ocoee, FL and in the MetroWest mixed-use development in southwest Orlando. Contractors will be racing to finish both projects in time for the lucrative Christmas holiday season. Wal-Mart’s 14-year-old store in Ocoee will close when the new outlet opens.

The retailer paid $7.33 million or about $293,480 per acre ($6.74 psf) for a 25-acre parcel at MetroWest.. Wal-Mart plans to pay about the same for a similar-sized tract in Ocoee when that deal closes later this year, retail sources familiar with the transaction tell GlobeSt.com.

Wal-Mart officials won’t explain the change in architectural themes, but industry followers note growing residents’ opposition to the retailers’ football-field size stores are convincing store executives one way to win a community’s blessings is through high-end design that blends in with the neighborhood.

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