Published: Jun 21, 2010 2:01 AM EDT
Updated: Jun 20, 2010 8:28 PM EDT

Developers say it could be a sign of the times.  Shopping centers in Southwest Florida are slowly filling up...meaning the economy may be starting to recover  However, many strip malls are still sitting nearly empty.

At Island Plaza along San Carlos Boulevard near Kelly Road in Lee County-- stores are lined up along the side of the Target store...considered the anchor of the plaza.  Now, businesses are going in to the adjacent buildings.

"It has happened here in Lee County.  You're starting to see an influx of interest with the economy picking up...that affects retail and it affects shopping centers especially ones like this," says Ron.

Plaza owners are trying to seduce businesses in to their locations, by offering rates that are much lower than in 2007.  Ron says that's the change that you have to undergo to experience the dynamics and to take advantage of the dynamics of the market.

Jeff Young owns Rita's Italian Ice...which sits along the side of Target.  He says he's not seeing much sweet success.

"We're doing probably 50% of what we anticipated in gross business."

Still...Ron is confident that things will change for the better.

"It's more of a mental change that we're starting to experience and it's allowed things to happen," says Ron.