Port Charlotte Town Center mall in Port Charlotte. Credit: WINK News.

Bloomberg report: SWFL malls’ parent company prepares for bankruptcy

The number of mall shoppers has been declining over the years, taking a complete dive during the pandemic. Some malls might not survive.

According to a Bloomberg report, Washington Prime Group is preparing to file for bankruptcy — the parent company of  Port Charlotte Town Center mall in Port Charlotte and Edison Mall in Fort Myers. This comes after it skipped an interest payment on its debt.

However, a spokesperson for Washington Prime Group told us the company doesn’t comment on, “market rumors,” and wouldn’t elaborate further.

In lieu of confirmation from Washington Prime Group, gone are the crowds at Port Charlotte Town Center.

“The traffic has been so slow in there over the years,” Joan Clements said.

There, you will find vacant storefronts and empty windows.

“I think the online businesses, especially this past year with COVID, are really hurting the malls a lot,’ Paul Tringali said.

The future of the mall is unclear.

“It’s been going downhill gradually, so to say we are really surprised, no,” Clements said.

“I’m not surprised,” Tringali said. “A lot of the malls are struggling right now.”

We counted nearly three dozen empty storefronts and restaurants at Port Charlotte Town Center.

“It’s a shame because we really don’t have any malls close by. Everything is probably within a 25-to-30-mile range,” Clements said.

Washington Prime Group owns 10 other malls in Florida.

People are hopeful the mall can bounce back to protect hundreds of jobs and a staple in Port Charlotte.

“I’d hate to see anybody lose their job,” Tringali said.

Washington Group full statement

Washington Prime Group does not comment on market rumors.

As previously announced, Washington Prime Group’s board of directors has engaged advisors to explore strategic alternatives in order to strengthen the company’s balance sheet. We intend to continue business as usual at Washington Prime Group’s properties, where our tenants, sponsors and employees will continue operating as normal, with a focus on providing safe and enjoyable experiences for our guests.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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