PORT RICHEY – Don’t write off Gulf View Square just yet.

The nearly four-decade-old shopping facility has seen better days, but owners, tenants and frequent shoppers have reason to believe in a bounce-back.

“The myth that’s out there is that the mall is closing,” said Kenny Banaciski, owner of Dream Bubble Shop, in the mall. “Even customers today are coming in saying they thought they were tearing the mall down, but it’s not happening.”

Banaciski made the comment Friday at a groundbreaking event for a new apartment complex being built behind the mall. Gables at Gulf View will be a 312-unit complex developed by Dorvidor Management Company. The first phase of the complex expects to open in the first quarter of 2020, followed by its completion by the end of next year.

“We’re looking forward to 312 new units, which will stand as a beginning, hopefully, of a revitalization of a mall and not let this mall become an eyesore,” said Irene Bartram, owner of Dorvidor Management Company. The real estate holding and management company also owns the 420-unit Park Place Apartments, which are across U.S. 19-Gulf Coast Highway from the mall. “We’re fully convinced that we’ll revitalize this area.”

The Gables at Gulf View apartments are being constructed on land on the western, or back, side of the mall once covered by a parking lot and demolished retail space within the mall most recently occupied by the closed J.C. Penney and Macy’s department stores.

Sharing in that optimism are county commissioners Jack Mariano and Kathryn Starkey. Both were in attendance Friday afternoon to celebrate the project’s progress and share their thoughts.

“What you’re doing here, all the people you just mentioned, it’s all jobs. Creating jobs, creating excitement,” Mariano said, speaking after Bartram and her son and business partner, Spencer. “We’re going to try and help every step of the way because we think this is a great, great project.”

Dorvidor Management Company is working alongside New Port Richey-based engineering firm Coastal Design Consultants and Clearwater-based builder Bradley Construction Company to see Gables at Gulf View move from the drawing board to reality. Spencer Bartram, addressing the crowd Friday with his two young children in tow, said it was important for the company to align itself with as many local partners as possible. Dorvidor Management Company operates six other residential complexes, with five located in the Tampa Bay area.

“This is our second substantial investment in Port Richey and we couldn’t be more excited to do be doing that,” Bartram said. “We had the realization that people really do want to live, work and play in Pasco County.”

And placing hundreds of people right in the mall’s backyard gives the entire facility and its shop owners hope for the future. The apartment complex’s completion and residents moving in will be one of the most impactful changes to the area in recent years.

“We really believe that it’s going to be a good symbiotic relationship,” Irene Bartram said.

“It’s a positive thing, all the tenants are excited about it and we’re really happy that it’s going to happen,” said Banaciski, the Dream Bubble Shop owner.