Two thirds of the decaying Kendale Plaza shopping center were sold in July to a Moore County-based commercial development firm, and the director of forthcoming locally-based charter school said he expects to close on the lower third by the end of the month.
Regarding the occupied parts of the shopping center – the two buildings surrounded by Lee Avenue, Main Street, Judd Street, and Cameron Drive – a deed on file at the Lee County Courthouse shows a transfer on July 16 from Kendale Partners to a West End-based LLC called Par 5 Holding.
Par 5 Holding appears to be connected to Par 5 Development, which is described on its website as a “preferred developer” for Dollar General and PetSuites of America. A person answering the phone at Par 5 Development said the company did not wish to discuss what plans, if any, the company has for the site.
That said, the website hosts photos of some of the company’s current holdings, which at the very least appear to be more modern and of a higher quality than what currently exists at Kendale,. Further, language on the site offers some hope that the company is willing to to work with Sanford city government to see the location improve.
“At Par 5 we understand how important it is to cooperate and work with local officials to ensure that each project is designed and built to the local ordinances and regulations,” the site reads. “From appearance to environmentally sound stormwater practices, we aim to deliver a building that the municipality and neighborhood are delighted to have as a part of their community.”
Kendale Plaza – the occupied parts anyway – remains open for business but has fallen into disrepair and been the subject of a large number of complaints throughout Sanford and Lee County. Once identified as the longest continuous shopping center in the state, it was a hub for business in Lee County from its construction in the 1960s until the 1980s before losing steam amid the construction of Riverbirch Corner (which now has similar problems of its own), the opening of a Walmart on South Horner Boulevard and, recently, the revitalization of downtown Sanford.
The Rant produced a three part series on Kendale back in December of 2017 which examined the shopping center’s history, present and possible futures. At that time, a few local officials expressed hope that the property could be partially or entirely repurposed for use as some type of mixed-use retail/residential project. A sale of the property to a Texas company that specialized in that type of work fell apart at the last minute in December of 2018.
Meanwhile, at least part of the so-called “bottom third” of Kendale has been announced by the MINA Charter School as the site for its campus slated to open in 2020. This portion of the shopping center, most recently home to a movie theater and multiple restaurants, has been completely vacant for a number of years. Shawn Williams, the president of MINA’s board of directors, signed a letter of intent to purchase the property in January, and said he anticipates closing on the sale by the end of the month, with work on the property to begin around November.