Tomahawk Robotics, not Trader Joe’s, moving into Eau Gallie Walgreens building on US 1

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Tomahawk Robotics, a flourishing Melbourne tech firm launched at Groundswell Startups, is expanding soon into the long-empty Walgreens building in Eau Gallie.

Considered one of downtown Eau Gallie’s anchor properties, the empty Walgreens at US 1 and Eau Gallie Boulevard – Melbourne’s highest-traffic intersection – has sat vacant since 2016.

Tomahawk Robotics may move in by late summer, said Brad Truesdell, CEO and co-founder. At 16,809 square feet, the old Walgreens measures roughly double the size of the company’s current home on Irwin Street, with room for employment to eventually increase from more than 30 to 75 workers.

“It will really allow us to expand from where we are today, primarily on the testing side. We work with a lot of different robotic platforms, and we need additional lab space, “Truesdell said.

“It’s really important for our engineering team to support that multidisciplinary collaboration, and the work across different platforms that we’re doing for our customers,” he said.

Tomahawk Robotics in Melbourne was formed at Groundswell Startups in late 2018 with three employees.

More:Groundswell Startups spawns high-tech expansion boom in south Melbourne along US 1

More:‘Shark Tank’-like: Groundswell to host $ 20,000 pitch contest for startup businesses

Wednesday night, the Melbourne Historic and Architectural Review Board approved a new temporary sign at the Walgreens property: “The Future Home of Tomahawk Robotics: Join the Unmanned Systems Revolution.”

Walgreens’ debut in Eau Gallie was a community controversy in 1999, as many neighbors feared increased traffic and a “domino effect” of commercial development. The Melbourne Planning and Zoning Board recommended denial of a rezoning request for the project, but the Melbourne City Council approved it.

Amid the debate, Walgreens officials said the store would not be open 24 hours – and it would be built “old-Florida style,” with a blacktop roof, shutters and its original white walls.

The pharmacy opened in 2000, replacing a vacant gas station and three homes on US 1 between Montreal Avenue and Old Oak Street.

The old Walgreens building at the southeast corner of US 1 and Eau Gallie Boulevard, which sports a recent coat of blue paint.

In October-November 2019, an Eau Gallie Arts District grassroots social media campaign unsuccessfully attempted to lure Trader Joe’s to open a store inside the shuttered Walgreens.

As of Thursday, the Facebook page “EGAD Trader Joe’s” had more than 23,900 followers.

During that 2019 campaign, a Trader Joe’s public relations director told FLORIDA TODAY the California-based grocery chain had no plans to build a store in Brevard County. The nearest stores are still located in Orlando and Winter Park.

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