POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) – At last travelers on the Florida Turnpike near Pompano Beach can stop in for a Pizza Hut slice or a Dunkin Donut, and all it took was 18 months of construction and $16 million to make it happen.
The Pompano Beach Service Plaza is the first of 8 to reopen as part of a larger plan to renovate each of them, the first time in almost 25 years the plazas have been updated.
The total price for the project is $163 million, or on the average, $20 million apiece.
If that seems pricey for what is, in effect, a gas station, a trio of fast food restaurants and some shops, at least take comfort in the fact that taxpayers or turnpike travelers won’t have their toll ticket punched for the entire cost.
The plaza buildings are being updated under a contract with Areas USA, who won a 30-year deal to run the turnpike concessions which include food, fuel, and shopping.
As part of the deal, Areas USA was required to rebuild all of the service plazas. All but Snapper Creek were built in the mid 1950s and updated in 1988. The state will pat $62 million of the $163 million contract.
And while the 11,500 square foot Pompano Beach plaza cost about $1300 a square foot to build, including gas station, Turnpike officials touted luxury features like a 300 gallon saltwater aquarium, a custom-designed water fountain, unique color schemes for each plaza and larger rest rooms.
The Pompano Beach Service Plaza offers a Pizza Hut, a Wendy’s, and a Dunkin Donuts, along with a convenience store as part of the restaurant building offering snacks and sandwiches.
The plaza also includes an updated Shell gas station.
The Plaza building is smaller than the old facility, as the state studies showed more commuters used the plaza than long distance travelers. Other plazas in less populated areas will be larger to meet those needs.
Kim Poulton, Turnpike spokesperson, said the cost was a bit misleading because it included things like demolition of the old building, mitigation activity at the original gas station, parking areas, and other changes outside of the plaza building. However, those costs were built into design of the plaza as a whole.
The cost of the amenities could be one reason food prices at the service plazas are often higher than non-turnpike locations.
Work is continuing at the Snapper Creek, West Palm Beach, Ft. Drum, Canoe Creek and Turkey Lake plazas with completion planned by the end of the year. Work will then start at the Ft. Pierce and Okahumpka plazas.