ATLANTA-Lakeland FL-based Publix Super Markets Inc. is setting up headquarters for its new online shopping/delivery service in Alpharetta, GA in north Fulton County, about 25 miles north of Downtown.

Publix, the largest grocer in Florida, has signed a long-term lease, estimated at 10 years, for one floor of 25,000 sf, in Preston Ridge IV near Ga. 400. Rental rates in the area average $21.50 per sf.

In Atlanta, Publix will go click to click with Webvan, the national online grocery shopping service which made this area its second market and is the most visible player in the field.

About a dozen employees will staff the online operation beginning in mid-December with the potential of growing the work force to 100, Publix spokesperson Jennifer Bush tells

The company chose Atlanta, specifically the north Fulton area, to tap into the pool of technical expertise needed to make the venture work, says Bush. Sites in metro Orlando were also considered. Publix has a regional office, distribution and manufacturing centers already here.

PublixDirect expects to be delivering groceries at least by the second quarter of 2001 and is scouting for warehouse fulfillment center sites in Georgia and Florida. Residential density and income, along with traffic patterns, factor into the market selection.

Generally, each center will serve an area within a five to 10 mile radius. Bush says the hour-timeframe for delivery is yet to be set.

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