A permit has been issued for extensive renovations to part of one of the buildings in the decaying Kendale Plaza shopping center, The Rant has learned.

The permit on file with the Sanford Lee County Planning Department was issued on January 29 and calls for renovations to the “center bays” of the shopping center’s northernmost portion, which will include the removal of inner walls and plumbing, roof replacement, and mold and asbestos abatement.

The uppermost two thirds of the aging shopping center were purchased last summer by a Moore County-based developer which has yet to publicly disclose any plans for the property. It’s unclear when – and even if – work will begin on the property, but the permit is valid until July of this year.

Par 5 Development is described on its website as a “preferred developer” for Dollar General and PetSuites of America.

The company’s website hosts photos of some of its 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, the MINA Charter School has purchased the shopping center’s southernmost building and begun redeveloping the building for its campus, which is 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.