- December 7, 2011
Last season, the Centre Shops was run down and in poor shape, with potholed parking lots, chipped painting and decrepit roofs.
“When we took over the center, we just knew it was tired,” said Earl Fossum, vice president of ICORR Properties, which has managed the property since Sarasota-based FH Centre Shops LLC purchased it for $3.7 million in December 2014. “There had been a lot of deferred maintenance with work that wasn’t done that should have been done."
This season, however, is a different story after a $540,000 renovation.
“The new remodel is 100 times better than what it was,” said Blue Dolphin Café owner Robbie Ball. “...(The building) was suffering quite a bit.”
ICORR Properties began renovations with a new parking lot that was finished this fall. It repainted the buildings in Key West-style colors, replaced roofs, added solar panels, stained sidewalks and added LED lighting.
“I’m thrilled that it now looks like a vibrant, thriving center, and the new landlord has made some necessary repairs and some additional enhancements,” said Susan Goldfarb, Longboat Key Education Center executive director.
Before the renovations, several spaces at the center were available. Now, the retail space is 100% leased, and there are only three to four office spaces available.
That revitalization is also bringing more customers and tenants to the Centre Shops.
“The new colors, the new roof, everything is attracting more business,” Ball said. “We have customers come in and state the place looks really nice. It’s been a vast improvement.”
One new tenant is Décor de France, which operated on St. Armands Circle for 14 years and sells home décor, gifts, art, perfumes, scarves, soaps and more, much of which is imported from the south of France.
Owner Jeannie Carraway opened her doors at the Centre Shops Oct. 23, and plans to take over the space of the former Exotica Florist to open Décor de France Bébé, which will sell baby items.
“The Centre Shops is a very nice mixture of businesses, and that’s what drew me in,” Carraway said.