PUNTA GORDA Fla.- Ever since Hurricane Charley knocked down the City Marketplace, the 7.5 acres of land where the shopping center sat has become known as the broken tooth on the face of downtown Punta Gorda. Litter, broken concrete and unattended trees pepper the landscape that is the center of downtown. But all that is about to change. Late last week, Florida Premiere Contractors which includes local developers Bruce Laishley and Joe Boff bought the property. Rob Humpel with Florida Premiere Contractors revelaed that they are looking for plans for some areas of the property.“Were working through different concepts and studies a lot of which will involve Joe Boff how to best redevelop it'. Said Humpel. Another part of their plan involves putting an aquarium by Sarasota based Mote Marine on an acre and a half of land.
Punta Gorda City Manager Howard Kunik called the purchase a game changer saying having a draw like a Mote Aquarium in the center of town will change Punta Gorda from a small retirement hamlet to a destination spot for travelers. “What the mote project will do is that's sorta of like the anchor, once that's in you will see the other pieces develop hopefully soon thereafter”, said Kunik. The Wyvern hotel butts up to the blighted lot. Manager John Perez says possible development is welcome news. “The lot of land has been an eyesore so now were going to see some positive development on there its going to be something great for the entire community, its going to be a family destination and I look very much forward to it”, said Perez.
Mote Marine still has to raise the money for the project but their fund-raising efforts are already in high gear. Humpel estimates that if all things go well, they could be breaking ground within a years time.