Florida won't have the world's largest Buc-ee's after all

For over a year now, Floridians were made to think that the Sunshine State would soon be home to the world's largest Buc-ee's. Unfortunately, that isn't the case anymore, according to a Buc-ee's executive. 

News outlets across the state, including FOX 35, reported that even though the "world's largest" location is opening in Luling, Texas, it would be eclipsed by the new Buc-ee's coming soon to Ocala in Marion County. 

The Ocala location was slated to stand at 80,000 feet, making it the biggest travel center location in the country. That was according to zoning proposals and documents filed in Marion County obtained by FOX 35 at the time. 

JOHNSTOWN, COLORADO - MARCH 18: Buc-ees Travel Center opened in Johnstown, Colorado on March 18, 2024. Established in 1982, Buc-ees has expanded to 34 stores in Texas and 14 others across different states. The Johnstown outlet marks Buc-ees debut in

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also said at the time that the state's Department of Transportation was working on adding a new interchange at Interstate 75 and NW 49th Street in Marion County to make room for the massive Buc-ee's. 

"By making strategic investments like today’s $4 million Job Growth Grant Fund Award, Florida will continue to fuel economic growth across the state," DeSantis said back in April 2023. "Ocala’s ideal location at the center of our state makes it prime for new manufacturing opportunities and for visitors looking for a place to stop and grab some Beaver Nuggets. I look forward to seeing the opportunities this award will create for Floridians, businesses and communities in Central Florida."

In the hours after FOX 35 published a news article about the opening of the over-75,000-square-foot Luling location, Buc-ee's Director of Real Estate and Development Stan Beard shared a statement about the upcoming Ocala location, clarifying the size of it.

The 74,000-square-foot Ocala travel center is expected to begin construction at the end of 2024 or early 2025, according to Beard. An opening date has yet to be revealed, but a spokesperson for Buc-ee's told FOX 35 on Monday that it typically takes 16 months from groundbreaking to construct a travel center location. That means this Buc-ee's could open as early as mid-2026 using this timeline. 

This upcoming location is being built using the new store model, which is the largest outside Texas. Several stores, including Sevierville, Tennessee, which opened last summer, were built and will be built using this store model, the spokesperson added. 

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2021/11/22: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at Buc-ee's travel center, where he announced his proposal of more than $1 billion in gas tax relief for Floridians in response to rising gas p

Here's a look at the statement from Beard in full:

Buc-ee’s is currently in the design and permitting phase for a 74,000 square foot-store in Ocala, FL, which is our largest store model outside the State of Texas. The new Buc-ee’s travel center in Marion County will be located at the soon to be constructed I-75 and NW 49th Street Interchange. FDOT, Marion County, and the Governor’s Office have all been outstanding partners in this project and we look forward to the highway construction beginning toward the end of this year or early 2025. Buc-ee’s will be following the FDOT schedule closely and we intend to open the store soon after the Interchange is completed. We are ecstatic to be on the west coast of Florida and are thankful to all those who have helped us get here.

No other details about the Ocala location have been released at this time. 

There are currently two Buc-ee's locations open in Florida – one in Daytona Beach and another in St. Augustine. Ocala would be the third, and a new location in the works in St. Lucie County would be the fourth.