Friday, October 21, 2011

George Mindling Column 5-20-2005

Punta Gorda's Not Escaping Area Changes


Will Rogers, the great American humorist, is supposed to have responded to a small city mayor who asked him what he thought of their fair town with, “It’s a good place for one…”

While I can’t verify the town or the quote, the quip certainly brings to mind Punta Gorda.

While getting my wife’s car serviced in the “Great Auto Mile” on US 41, we decided to grab a bite to eat and do some shopping. The several restaurants on the block at Marion are very nice and well priced, just be sure to check the schedules as most are in summer schedule. Several other shops, sorry, shoppes, appeared to be on hiatus as well

Since the central shopping area appeals to those looking for specialty items, we wandered over to Fisherman’s Village, which caters to the tourist crowd, or trickle, depending on the time of year, to see if we could really do any shopping. After an ice cream cone and a leisurely stroll along the shoppes, we decided we really didn’t want a tee shirt or a bumper sticker. Now where to?

With all the autos for sale and being serviced in the concentrated area on Tamiami Trail, I expected to find abundant proof of life in the neighborhood. There seemed to be plenty of traffic, especially pick up trucks laden with ladders and PVC pipe, even sheets of drywall, but everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get into PGI or leave town.

According to a local, well known real estate broker, Punta Gorda Isles, the high dollar salt water canal front part of town, is just now, for the for the first time, seeing clusters of kids waiting for school buses. The comments were broadcast during a local cable television show that highlights our area and activities. The significance of the observation may not be seen immediately, but our area is changing and so is Punta Gorda.

While the residents of Punta Gorda have always raised families here, the next generation of PGI residents offers a new paradigm to retailers. That will dictate the changes that will transpire in the quaint town of Punta Gorda. Retailers know where the money is. Home Depot and Wal-Mart will be the first of the new retailers, but don’t be surprised if other national chains have their eyes on the changing profile of Punta Gorda.

The hurricane rebuilding effort is underway, but what will it bring? What will rise from the rubble of a hotel and the County Auditorium yet remains to be seen. What had been a central shopping area for Punta Gorda remains barren. The vacant land is more than an eyesore, it is a reminder that now is the time to do things right. Empty lots will hopefully grow new structures and buildings to be the face of a new City.

The heart of Punta Gorda is still there. It just isn’t beating very hard at the moment.
George Mindling

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