(To close out the year, we’re counting off five of our most-read stories from 2017. While many of our clicks this year came on stories of tragedy, we’ve left those pieces off this list out of respect for the families. Here’s number four. Read number five here. Check back each day between now and December 30 for each new installment.)

Local shopping centers were a source of great interest in 2017, which makes sense. “When are we getting a Target?” is probably the most frequently asked question in Lee County’s hundred-plus year history, and while we’d love to break that story (for real, we mean, sorry about that April Fool’s thing a couple years ago), we’ll settle for writing about the shopping options we actually have.

News that Riverbirch Corner was in foreclosure and would be sold at auction was one of our most widely-viewed individual posts of 2017, and our three part series on the future of blighted Kendale Plaza generated plenty of interest as well (“why don’t they bulldoze Kendale?” might be the second most frequently asked local question).

The Kendale Plaza shopping center at its grand opening in 1964. Below, a sketch of one possible future for the blighted property.

There’s been progress on both fronts: Riverbirch was under contract with an undisclosed buyer as of late November, and the Sanford Herald reported in the wake of our series that the Sanford City Council had began discussions on how best to ensure that when Kendale sells, it sells to someone interested in rehabilitating and repurposing the three block structure.

There’s no question, though, that retail is booming locally. That’s likely to continue. Time will tell if some of Sanford’s aging shopping centers will be a adapt and be a part of that boom.

Read the next installment of this series here.

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