Saturday, January 19, 2019

Winn-Dixie #2324 - The Shoppes of Cocoa North - Cocoa, FL


Winn-Dixie #2324
2300 State Route 524, Cocoa, FL – The Shoppes of Cocoa North

     The Winn-Dixie originally opened at this site all by itself in 1993. In 1994, the stretch of shops to the right of the building was added. Winn-Dixie felt this store did so well during the late 1990's, that in 1999 they added on a 20,000 square foot addition to the left side of the building in order to expand the service departments. They also added a liquor store to the building at that time as well. Also in 1999, the strip of stores to the left of the Winn-Dixie was added on, completing the build-out of the plaza. Everything seemed fine here until 2007, when Winn-Dixie announced they were closing this store as a part of a round of closures related to emerging from their crippling 2005 bankruptcy. Only a year after Winn-Dixie closed, Home Depot purchased this property in 2008 into order to redevelop the plaza with a new Home Depot store. The plans for the redevelopment called for tearing down the old Winn-Dixie building and the strips of stores to either side of it. A small new shopping center was constructed off to the right side of the original plaza to house the remaining Cocoa North tenants that did not relocate on their own due to the pending construction of the Home Depot. Home Depot got approval from the city for the new store, and everything was ready to go. However, Home Depot stalled the construction of the new store. The new store was originally planned to open in Spring 2009, but that was later changed to 2011. In 2012, after nothing happened here for four years after Home Depot’s original plans were announced, Home Depot officially decided they were no longer interested in building a store here. Home Depot still owns the property to this day, but they have it placed it on their list surplus real estate as a means to attract a new buyer. The entire strip still sits empty as well, and will likely stay that way as long as Home Depot still owns the property. However, there were plans announced in 2016 to redevelop the plaza into a Park and Go lot for the nearby cruise terminals at Port Canaveral, however the City of Cocoa shot down those plans due to a zoning issue.

     A dreary day looms over a dreary building. Like I mentioned in the intro paragraph, not only is the Winn-Dixie empty, but so is the entire plaza. I've been fascinated with this dead plaza for years, even before I began taking pictures of this stuff regularly. I remember this plaza when it was thriving, and I watched it go from that to this over the span of those few years in the late 2000's. Eleven years and two failed redevelopment attempts later, here it still is sitting empty. As Retail Retell commented about the plaza's situation: "I hate stories like this :(" Daniel Westfall commented about the appearance of the plaza itself: "Really sad to see since the plaza looks so attractive. Maybe eventually something will develop here. Seems such a waste to sit empty."


     The plaza's road sign. The new strip of stores off to the right side of the original building still uses this as their road sign. The Dollar and Discount store whose logo is where Winn-Dixie's used to be is also in the small strip.


     Here's a closeup of the old Winn-Dixie building itself. This was one of the 90's stores to get the Marketplace diamond logo in stained glass. These stores weren't too common. I know of one other one off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are a few others out there. The stained glass is very dirty on the front now, so it's hard to see the details of it from far away. At night, while the stained glass portion wasn't backlit, it would still glow from the lights on the front of the store, and it looked really neat. Don't worry, closeups of it will come later in the post. Additionally, you can also see the labelscars from where all of Winn-Dixie's signs used to be to the left and right of the stained glass panel.


     The front of the Winn-Dixie from a different angle. It might be a little easier to see the Marketplace labelscar in this picture, to the right of the stained glass decoration.


     I think I was going for a closeup of the stained glass with this picture, but I'm not really sure.


     The left side of the building. Here you can see the labelscar from the Winn-Dixie sign.


     'Marketplace' labelscar. If I remember correctly, all the signage on the front of this store was in white.


     The stained glass panel made for a really nice looking entryway. It looks much better when the glass is cleaned, when there aren't boards on the windows, and if the building got a good power washing.


     Typical 90's Winn-Dixie entryway. The two doors on either end were the entrances, and the two center doors were the exits.


     I'm sure many of you are interested in taking a closer look at that stained glass panel up there, so several of this post's images will be of that:


     Closeup of the front of the panel, with many years of dirt and gunk covering the original red and green colors, making it look mostly gray.


     To really get a feel of the original colors, you have to step around to the other side and look at it from behind. This panel is one of the more interesting things Winn-Dixie has ever used in one of their stores.


     The panel from behind, at a slightly different angle.


     Now that we've taken in about as much as we could of the stained glass, we go back down to ground level for a look at the store's vestibule. This photo was taken looking toward the right side of it.


     The left side of the vestibule.


     This place has been for sale for seven years now, yet still no takers.


     Here we have a look down the front of the store, as seen from the right side of the building.


     The former Winn-Dixie liquor store is pictured here. This was added as part of the 1999 remodel, as Winn-Dixie didn't begin to open liquor stores until the late 90's.


     Closeup of the entrance into the liquor store.


     The small strip of stores to the right side of the Winn-Dixie, with the front of the liquor store also getting in there. For the remainder of this post, the primary focus is going to be shifting to the rest of the abandoned plaza.


     The strip of stores to the right of the Winn-Dixie building. On this side of the plaza was originally a veterinarian, H&R Block, Hair Cuttery, and a few other small stores. As you can see, some of the old signage remains. The veterinarian moved into a new building across the street from here, and H&R Block and Hair Cuttery moved into the new strip of stores built off to the side of this building. There was also a Chinese Takeout place over here and some kind of financial advising office as well, along with a doctor's office. Those first two places are also now in the small strip of stores off to the side as well, but I don't know where the doctor's office relocated to.


     Another front view of the strip of stores. On the arched part of the facade, you can see the labelscar from the doctor's office.


     Moving over to the walkway. It was very creepy walking up and down the front sidewalk of this place. I walked from the far right end all the way to the left side strip of stores. Something about all the boarded up storefronts, storm clouds, and being the only person around just made this an eerie experience.


     Going further down the walkway. Here you can see the signage better from Hair Cuttery and H&R Block that was never removed or painted over. As l_dawg2000 commented, "Odd that they left all these signs up. I guess they figured no one would ever see them!" Retail Retell also couldn't help be to agree to l_dawg's thoughts on this.


     Nobody is getting in there. I don't remember what this was the door into. I think this entire plaza, although a little weathered and dirty on the outside, is still structurally sound and salvageable. As PlazaACME commented, "I think this center could easily be revived." That seems to be pretty true, as some new paint, a little bit of cleaning, and some minor maintenance work and this place could be up and running again easily for new tenants. If only Home Depot can find a buyer for this plaza!


     Looking at the last few storefronts on the right end of the empty plaza here.


     Time to start heading the other way. The old Winn-Dixie and its liquor store are off in the distance, with another view of those old signs hanging over the empty storefronts.


     Walking past the Winn-Dixie, here we can see toward the strip of store to the left side of the old winn-Dixie building. The wall you see to the right was the addition added onto the Winn-Dixie in 1999. The transition between old and new is completely seamless on the outside. I wonder what the transition looks like inside the store, or better yet, what the inside of the old Winn-Dixie looks like in general. The old Marketplace interior was probably left intact if I had to guess.


     Going just a bit further down the walkway that leads to the left side of the plaza.


     Here is our first look at some of the storefronts on this side of the plaza. I believe the first few storefronts on this side were occupied by a Movie Gallery location. The Movie Gallery may have just closed outright as this plaza was vacated right at the time Movie Gallery was closing lots of locations in the late 2000's, just prior to their complete liquidation in 2010.


Dollar Tree #1391
2300 State Route 524, Cocoa, FL – The Shoppes of Cocoa North

     This Dollar Tree opened on October 6, 1999 as a part of the newly constructed left wing of the Shoppes of Cocoa North, built at the same time the Winn-Dixie added on a 20,000 square foot addition to the left side of their original building. Dollar Tree relocated to a newly built store (#3976, located at 2701 Clearlake Road about a mile away) around 2007/2008 when Home Depot had all the remaining tenants in the plaza relocate so they could build their new store here, which as we all know never happened.

     The interesting thing is that the entire design of the exterior of this plaza actually matches the typical Dollar Tree prototype store design from the early 2000s. I don't think the architects who originally designed this plaza in 1993 were specifically out to please Dollar Tree way back then, but it worked out.


     Looking at Dollar Tree's front doors and toward the left end of the plaza. Dollar Tree was the junior anchor of this plaza, and their store took up the majority of this side of the shopping center. I also have absolutely no idea why there is a paper lady hanging from the door either, or what it may symbolize. However, the paper lady kept getting blown around in the wind during my visit this day. At first when I heard something scraping against the boards, I thought there was someone else over here! As Retail Retell commented, "Very creepy." This is definitely one of the stranger things I've come across while visiting an abandoned place...


     Looking back toward the Winn-Dixie from this angle. That light fixture dangling from the ceiling in this photo was the most severe damage I saw to this building while I was here, which has held up pretty well consider how long it's been abandoned for. In some places this plaza probably would have been trashed and looted after sitting empty like this for so long, so I have to give Home Depot credit for maintaining this place to an extent.


     A closeup of the doors into the old Dollar Tree, and our paper lady friend (who I just now noticed lacks any arms).


     Looking back up the walkway toward Winn-Dixie from the old Dollar Tree space.


     And one final look at the Winn-Dixie as the sun finally begins to break from behind the clouds (although the sun didn't last long this day - it began pouring again shortly after this, putting a damper on my retail trip!). Way off in the far right background of this picture you can see a piece of the new shopping center built to house the former Cocoa North tenants that didn't relocate on their own. Also on the far right is a Walmart cart that wandered over from the Supercenter about a mile away from here.

     And with that, we conclude our look at The Shoppes of Cocoa North. This is certainly one of the most interesting abandoned retail sights in Brevard County, and it doesn't seem like that status is going to change anytime soon.

So, until the next post,

AFB

P.S. - I apologize if any of you are now suffering from nightmares of that creepy paper lady from the abandoned Dollar Tree :)

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