Tag Archives: village

Photo by Nomeus, 2007 - Flurbex.com

The Mercado Mediterranean Shopping Village

Photo by Nomeus, 2007 - Flurbex.com
Photo(Nomeus, 2007 – Flurbex.com): Orlando first festival marketplace, it featured specialty shops, restaurants and entertainment.

The Mercado Shopping Village opened March 1986, Orlando’s first festival marketplace, which emphasized specialty shops, restaurants, and entertainment. With over 50 stores, they ranged from Old Tyme Photos, where you got your photo taken while wearing old time rags to Santa C., a shop which specialized primarily in Christmas year round.

The shopping center also featured events, for example in 1987 they had the Big Scoop Ice Cream Competition and Tasting Fair; open to all ice creams where they competed for best best vanilla ice cream, best chocolate ice cream, best ice cream dish, best ice cream drink and best far-out flavor. The shops also brought with them 15-20 gallons of ice cream to sell and the proceeds went to charity.

By 1988 though, business was waning. Merchants said it was mainly because the marketplace relied solely on tourists. In 1990, Martin Marietta Corp, owner, sold the Mercado for $42.5 million, a sale that was part of a liquidation of the company’s holding in the business park. It was managed by Ewing Southeast Realty Inc. until it was purchased in 1991 by Christian Wolfer, who at the time owned four different companies. In 2002, the owners filed for bankruptcy, blaming the post-Sept.11 tourist slump for the slow business. LaSelle Bank acquired the property and auctioned it off for $18.3 million.

Photo by Nomeus, 2007 - Flurbex.com
Photo(Nomeus, 2007 – Flurbex.com):One of the haunted houses during the Mercado’s Halloween event in 2006, “Nights of Terror”

The property was purchased by Unicorp National Developments in 2005. by that time, business was terrible. Less than a dozen shops remained; empty storefronts with broken windows were plenty and walking into a filthy bathroom was common. Unicorp hired a security firm to help combat the vandalism and crime in the plaza.

In 2006, Unicorp donated the plaza to Raw Productions, which put on a haunted house event for several weeks leading up to Halloween. Called Nights of Terror, they converted three empty storefronts and the still-operating Titanic: Ship of Dreams attraction into four haunted houses. Opening week though, they didn’t bring in the crowd they expected it to and began offering unlimited foods and lower ticket prices. Tenants complained the company brought in its own food and drinks, discouraging those who did attend to patronize their restaurants.

Unicorp announced in 2007, the Mercado would be demolished to make way for The Square, a mixture of upscale restaurants and eateries with a 424-room, 16-story hotel, dubbed Amalfi to be built first. The plan never materialized and in 2011, it was announced that a $100 million entertainment-dining-shopping district theme park called I-Drive Live would be built, including a 425 foot observation dubbed the Orlando eye, a Madame Tussauds wax museum, and a Sea Life Aquarium. As of 2013, the property is still an empty lot.

Photo by Nomeus, 2007 - Flurbex.com
Photo(Nomeus, 2007 – Flurbex.com): Blazing Pianos, a piano bar where pianists played rock-n-roll classics.

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2007
Website: FLURBEX

Photo by Jim Pike, 2007


Photo(Florida Photographic Collection, 1920s): This photo taken sometime in the 1920s shows the Brewster power plant, one of the only remaining remnants of the town.

The town of Brewster was founded in 1910 to accommodate the workers at the time who spent the day working at the nearby phosphate mine. Operated by American Cyanamid, the mine was located hours away from the nearest town. The town was built and expecting all the workers to live there, the needs of the town’s people were met, including schools, a movie theater, medical clinic, post office and swimming pool. As segregation was an issue at the time, whites lived in a section of town located south of the mine while blacks lived in a section to the east.

In the 1960s, the company planned to close the mining town and offered the workers a choice; the townspeople can buy their houses and move or the house would be demolished. Many bought their houses at low prices and moved to the nearest towns of Ft. Meade, Bartow, and Mulberry. The town was officially closed in 1962 and though much of the town was demolished afterwards, the drying plants, shops, main office, and chemical plant remained. In 1976, a mine was built in Fort Lonesome and the few functioning structures in Brewster were moved there.

The deed to the town was turned over to the state of Florida for a partial payment of a judgement made against American Cyanamid for environmental damages .

In 2008, it was found that the company that owned the property, Mosaic Co., a phosphate and potash producer, had fenced in the smokestack and surrounding structures with barbed wire. Some time later, bulldozers and trucks were sighted in the fenced in area.

Photo(Jim Pike, 2007): One of the last remaining structures in Brewster.

Photographer: Jim Pike
Year Taken: 2007
Website: Flickr

Archive Photos