by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
A major renovation project commenced at the iconic Bailey’s Shopping Center with the demolition of the Island Cinema last week. The project marks any substantial changes to the center and its beloved Bailey’s General Store in nearly 40 years.
Exterior renovations of the shopping center will be followed by interior renovations. Calli Johnson, whose family has owned Bailey’s for more than a century, said the center and grocery store will remain open for business throughout the project. “It’s important to us to continue serving our community during the renovations,” she said.
The unmistakable yellow and brown building with its flat roof will be replaced with a more prominent white and blue facade and a blue pitched roof. The building will expand to the south side of the center, adding 6,000 square feet of retail space.
However, that meant tearing down the nearly 50-year-old Island Cinema. It opened in 1972 as a one-screen theater before adding a second screen in the mid-1990s and even underwent a redesign in the early 2000s for a more comfortable movie-going experience.
The cinema closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, but will undoubtedly hold a place in the hearts of the Johnson family and community. “We are disappointed we couldn’t revive the business and are sad to see it go,” said Johnson. “It was a place where our family enjoyed spending time together. We did our best to save it.”
Increased parking area, including more spaces for bicycles and the addition of electric vehicle charging stations, and more vegetation buffers are also part of the changes. But many of the popular features at Bailey’s will remain, including The Grog Shop liquor store, hardware store and coffee shop.
The project, managed by Benchmark General Contractors, is estimated to be completed within the year. And Sanibel Planning Commission unanimously approved a temporary use permit this week for construction office space at a nearby small cottage, 2431 Periwinkle Way.