Gulf Coast Town Center: Dump City
If you’ve recently found yourself driving around Gulf Coast Town Center, you may have noticed that a new building is popping up seemingly every week.
What started off as a simple town mall with a handful of name-brand stores, two supermarkets, and a movie theater has turned into a beastly conglomerate of restaurants and stores resembling the strip mall hell that is Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Since about 2012, GCTC has been contracting new restaurants around its central hub and by 2014, the entire outer perimeter of the mall was skirted by restaurants and other businesses that seem disconnected like a meteor belt around a star.
Normally, the idea of new restaurants opening excites me because there’s a small chance that it could be something new and unique to the area. It’s true that we’ve never had a Chipotle in Fort Myers and it has a major following, but Tex-Mex is a dying fad and if you’ve had one you’ve had them all.
Where are the original hole-in-the-wall and mom-and-pop shops that bring new and genuinely great foods to people willing to stray from the fast food blues? Where are the shawarma huts where I can get the best Mediterranean food and possibly pneumonia?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to see the mall expanding and gaining business, but I swear if I have to see a strange European four-way intersection or a dysfunctional parking lot that could garner fear of a wreck every time I park I will ascend road rage and reach my final form of road supernova volcano.
Whoever designed the layout of GCTC roadways and parking, was clearly either an infant or a man with snakes for hands. It’s a nightmare just crossing from Ross to Dick’s Sporting Goods (& Escalators).
I think there is definitely room for improvement for GCTC, such as bulldozing the whole site and starting over. A nice park would be excellent there, or perhaps a highway rest stop or zip lining amusement park hybrid, but the mall as it is feels too cluttered and needs a serious reboot.