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Where did Port Charlotte and North Port Come From??

Posted 07-16-2017 at 09:31 AM by llrivero

Have you heard people say... "OH THAT IS A GDC Home"... or back when GDC developed.... ??
Well, recently I had the pleasure of meeting the seller of one of the homes a fabulous buyer is purchasing...... and he just celebrated his 90th birthday. He was eager to share his life adventures with us and stories of his home. He told us how he came down from New York because he had heard that land was literally being given away in Florida. He traveled with his wife and they purchased an acre of land from a company called GDC for $1.00. The very land his home was sitting on. He said the land was literally swamp land..... but he bought it because afterall... it was only $1.00 for property. He said years passed and canals were dug......by the developers to make the "swamp" turn into land that could be built on. His home was built in 1959. He has lived there ever since........... He has planted a beautiful garden and many lovely fruit trees in the backyard... and each one has a special meaning to him and memory of the day it was planted. 😍🌴
His story prompted me to do more research on this mystery company called GDC aka General Development Corporation....
😎😎Here is their story................
🕶️👔🎓GDC was the largest land development company in Florida. Founded in 1954 by brothers Elliot, Robert, and Frank Mackle Jr., and based in Miami, Florida, GDC established several "NEW" communities in the 1950s & 1960s, and promoted inexpensive Florida homesites worldwide. According to an often repeated story, the Mackle Brothers were selling lots in Miami area and decided to put an ad in a northern newspaper. They received hundreds then thousands of inquiries and began to buy land, plat and sell lots on a ten-year installment basis. Soon they were awash in money and expanded all over Florida ultimately buying several hundred thousand acres and starting many "new" communities.
At the end of the ten year installment period, the company was to develop the roads and drainage, construct and deed the lots. The first half dozen years, however, there was little development expense except for marketing, sales commissions and modest sales offices in the communities. The liabilities for ultimate lots construction loomed, and as construction commenced the cash began to drain out. The solution was to buy, plat and sell more lots to generate the cash flow to construct lots sold a decade earlier. A long term employee who had worked for the company through the 60's and 70's said they felt like a fire was burning behind them, and they had to expand, buying more land and platting and selling more lots, to deliver on previous commitments.
As each community began to be developed the developer built the roads, sewer and water plants, golf courses, marinas, other basic amenities and even operated landfills. These new communities had the feel of "company towns."
When North Port was incorporated GDC employees even made up the first City Council. North Port become it's own city in 1974 when it was voted to seperate from the Port Charlotte city charter. For years North Port was known as North Port Charlotte.
In the 1960s GDC's board of directors hired Charles H. Kellstadt, retired Chairman of Sears as President and Chairman. This was just after the GDC board voted to split with the founding Mackle Brothers. The Mackles went on to develop Marco Island and other prominent communities.
GDC implemented a money back guarantee on homes and lots, similar to what Sears offered. This was a powerful sales tool, and combined with the ability to swap remote lots, or undeveloped lots, for lots in the developed areas, allowed GDC to achieve tremendous sales success, selling several thousand lots each month and several hundred homes. The lot swap program also allowed the company to manage construction schedules and defer construction of new lots. Customers who owned a lot in an as yet undeveloped section, could swap for a lot in a developed area.
By the 1970s the company boasted 5,000 employees and a global sales force.
In the late 1980s GDC's management team was accused of fraudulent home sales: this led to criminal indictments of the company leadership, and bankruptcy of GDC in 1991. Functional assets held by GDC in various cities were turned over to their respective governments thereafter.
GDC developed the following cities:
Port LaBelle, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
North Port, Florida
Port St. John, Florida
Port Malabar, now a subdivision in Palm Bay, Florida
Port St. Lucie, Florida
Sebastian Highlands, Florida
Deltona, Florida
Key Biscayne, Florida
😎😍GDC homes have a very distinct look to them... and some have faced hurricanes and stood to talk about it... others have been taken down and have had a new home put in its place. But these cute little homes make up our community from a page of our history book. I live in a cute little GDC home... it has been updated... and it is just me and my husband... I love it. It is solid... concrete construction... and gives me a bit of that nostalgic feel when I pull up in the drive....
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