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Charlotte County Commissioner Joe Tiseo is used to shoveling dirt during groundbreaking ceremonies. However, on June 21, he wielded a sledgehammer during the wrecking and groundbreaking ceremony for a walkable neighborhood that will eventually house hundreds of apartments, a boutique hotel, restaurants and offices in Port Charlotte. 

The 26-acre Promenades at Parkside development that includes Promenades Mall will soon be transformed into Port Charlotte’s new downtown.

At the ceremony, Tiseo and other officials knocked down a wall made of a thin material between Fantastic Sams and Le Nails. 

Jeff Morr, a Miamiarea investor bought Promenades Mall3280 Tamiami Trail, for $21.5 million in 2015 and will transform the property into a walkable neighborhood.  

“There will be nearly 1,400 rental units,” he said. 

Of the nearly 1,400 rental units planned, 793 will be long-term rentals and 600 will have short-term leases. 

In addition, there will be a hotel and 230,000 square feet of commercial space, but Morr said it could increase to 270,000 square feet. 

The supermarket, now a Winn-Dixie, will remain but will be rebranded and become an Aldi. The supermarket giant in March purchased the parent company of Winn-DixieJacksonville-based Southeastern Grocers Inc. 

Residents living in Promenades at Parkside will, in many cases, be able to walk to work, as various businesses are expected to take up residency on the site. 

The development is in the heart of what for many years has been called the Medical District, as HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital and ShorePoint Health Port Charlotte are located nearby. 

There also are various medical buildings in the immediate area of the mall. 

Morr said he expects younger members of the workforce, including interns and medical workers at the hospitals, to live in the apartments. 

Although Morr acquired the mall property nearly a decade ago, the design and various applications took many years, and in between were three hurricanesIrma, Ian and Idalia. 

But it was Ian that caused the most damage to the mall in September 2022. 

Currently, the mall is attracting new merchants, and some were on hand for the ceremony. 

Al Biron, whose 32-flavor Lava Ice recently moved into Promenades, set up a stand and gave out free Italian Ice. His products are unique and vegan friendly. In addition to offering 32 flavors of Italian ice and ice cream, which is plant based, he also sells protein shakes and acai bowls. 

Veronica Raffone, owner of Bricks & Minifigs Port Charlotte, a Lego toy shop, had more than one reason to celebrate, as she finally found a permanent home for her business that underwent numerous obstacles. 

As she was about to open her business at another strip mall north of Promenades, the pandemic hit. She had to close for nine months. 

Then, Hurricane Ian destroyed her business and she had to find a new space. 

Bricks & Minifigs sells Lego kits, assorted individual pieces and other offerings for those who like to build with mini bricks and mini people. 

After watching the officials knock down the wall, perhaps nobody knows the joy of smashing things better than Jason and Kyle Myers, whose Smash It is about to open at Promenades and offers rooms where one can smash and destroy an array of objects in rage rooms. In two other rooms, they can splatter paint wherever they wish. 

Punta Gorda resident Sushila Cherian said the Promenades Mall holds fond memories for her, as she went back to work at the mall to have something to fill her days following the death of her husband. 

She became the customer service coordinator at Bealls department store at Promenades in the early 2000s. 

A long-time resident of Charlotte County, Cherian said she remembers when the Promenades Mall, built in 1976, was bustling with activity. 

Decades ago, it had a movie theater, independent bookstore, dress shop, Uptons department store and Cook’s Nook, established by the late Carol Watters whose kitchen supply store sold just about everything for the home cook. 

The vision for Promenades at Parkside is to go beyond what it was in its glory days and to be a place where people can live, work and enjoy leisure activities, said Morr’s representative, Amal Elbahnasawy. 

She said the public will enjoy the various shops, restaurants and outdoor spaces the new Port Charlotte downtown neighborhood will offer.  

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