Photo above...Wally World parking lot, with green construction fence prominently in sight...sign of the times.
Wal-Mart, Wally World, what ever you wish to call it, is everywhere. It's hard to drive very far in any direction down a busy avenue without passing one. My own Wally World is now about 20 years old and was the first of it's kind in a good 20 mile radius. Now we still have the old original Wally, plus 2 super-sized Wallies (called Super Wal-Mart stores) and plans for yet another, all within that same 20 mile circle...make that within a 10 mile circle!
Photo above...Under construction. Behind the green construction fence used to be the corner and leg of the"L" in our first little strip mall. Gone now are Radio Shack, Fashion Bug, and the Dollar Store.
The old shopping center, built in the very late 80's housed the area's first major supermarket called Publix. The other 3 corners of the intersection were vacant, except for grazing cattle and an orange orchard. Developers quickly discovered the area and it became a mecca for housing developments. In little time, perhaps 5 years or less, it was a common sight, during the holidays, to see a uniformed traffic cop directing a constant stream of vehicles into and out of the Publix parking lot. Soon the 3 vacant corners had been cleared and new strip malls sprang up, the sweet smell of the orange orchard is now just a memory as it fell to bulldozers and made way for our gigantic class A, Publix supermarket...leaving a huge windowless, big box store sitting empty and forlorn in the old strip mall. But the strip mall had Wally, and as long as Wally was there people came to shop and all the small shops and eateries in the center managed to survive.
Photos above and below...Store front of the old Publix supermarket, now sporting signage that this property is available for lease.
Then Benderson Developers purchased land next to the freeway off/on ramps and began building. That's when we got our first Home Depot, a Carrabba's, a Staples Office Supplies and our local Starbucks.
Of course the old Wally World wanted to move and get in on the action of a new and energetic shopping area that was scarcely 2 or 3 miles away. Normally their request would have been a "done deal", however the homeowners living in the surrounding area complained and they went to great lengths to prevent Wally from abandoning the old store and building yet another, bigger better super store. The fact that the old strip mall had one big box building setting empty was bad enough but to have 2 would have been true death for all of the small establishments that were trying to exist there.
Photo above...The old Walgreen's, now empty. Space definitely available!
Photo below...The only thing at this end of the strip mall is a Tae Kwondo school.
Photo below...A lot of real estate sitting empty !
Amazingly Wal Mart's requests and plans were eventually denied. Reluctantly the old store decided to expand instead. This meant that a whole section of the "L" wing of shops would have to be vacated, the old Walgreen's Drug Store, vacated it's location and built a nice, new, stand alone building. And now the wrecking crews have gone in and dismantled the corner of the "L" that once housed a Radio Shack, a Veterinarian's office, Fashion Bug Clothing store, a Chinese restaurant and a Dollar Store.
Photo above...Just a small section of shops, hanging on by their fingernails and with a hope and a prayer. There used to be a Chinese restaurant and a Dollar Store at the end of this section...then the leg of the "L" turned toward Wal-Mart . This leg was home to a Radio Shack, a veterinarian's office, and Fashion Bug clothing shop. All this space will become Wally's addition. Only time will tell how this little strip mall is going to fare.